Here’s a simple plan to help your pet get healthy this year. Take it slow and easy, don’t get overwhelmed, and by this time next year you’ll have taken several small but important steps to improve your pet’s health.
• Improve your pet’s diet. Read the label on your pet’s food. Keep your pet on a proper nutritional plan that’s balanced, age-appropriate and suited to any existing medical conditions. If you want to cook for your pet, check out our brochure on healthy diets for your pet.
• Take your pets to the vet for a routine check-up and make sure all vaccinations and treatments, such as flea, tick and heartworm, are up-to-date.
• Make certain that your pet is spayed or neutered, altered pets are less likely to develop testicular or mammary cancer.
• Pay more attention to your pet’s oral care and begin a teeth-brushing/cleaning regimen, as oral care is integral to your pet’s whole well-being and dental problems have been known to lead to other illnesses in pets.
• Keep your pet groomed for good health: brushing his coat, cleaning his ears and trimming his nails.
• Make sure your pet gets sufficient exercise to keep him healthy and fit.
• Stimulate your pet’s mind. Teaching her a new trick, devoting time to interactive playtime and introducing a new toy can help keep her vibrant.
• Hug your pet every day, assuring her that she is an invaluable part of your life.
The warmer days and cold evenings are a reminder that “real” winter won’t stay away forever. Pets need help coping with more severe weather.
1. Appropriate Attire:
Unless you live with a big hairy dog, you might want to consider a winter coat for your dog. Many small dogs and certain breeds (like greyhounds) are very sensitive to the cold.
2. Don’t Forget the Feet – Boots
The cold or iced pavement can injure your pet’s pads. And if you travel, the snow, ice, and de-icers of winter can be very hard on dogs’ feet. Snow creates “ice balls” between the pads. Pads get cut from ice. Feet get sore from de-icers (licking may also pose toxic ingestion hazards).
Dogs may also slip and fall, tearing their cruciate (knee) ligaments or other damage. For dogs out in snow and in urban environments, consider dog boots to keep your dog comfortable and help provide traction on slippery icy days.
3. Proper Housing and Bedding
Of course, our pets want to be where we are – inside where it is warm and cozy. If your pet spends some time outside, make sure that the housing is appropriate for your climate. A good shelter should be leak-proof, have ample warm and clean bedding, and situated to prevent/reduce drafts.
Indoor pets may need extra comforts in winter, too. Pets, especially arthritic dogs and cats, appreciate a comfortable bed up off of the floor to reduce post-nap stiffness.
4. Fresh Water
This is important year round, of course, but extra attention is necessary during winter months for outdoor water sources. Dogs and cats don’t intuitively know that they can break through ice to reach the water. Heated water bowls work great, the water remains cold, but is kept just warm enough so it does not freeze. These also work well if you have an outdoor aviary.