Help your animals beat the winter blues

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Winter is the perfect time of year to snuggle up under the doona. But don’t forget that animals feel the cold too! Read on for RSPCA NSW’s five top tips for keeping them warm and safe when temperatures drop this winter.

Don’t be fooled by the fur coat! If you can feel the chill in the air, your pet is probably thinking the same thing. Your animal friends will need a bit of extra care to stay cosy, happy and healthy during the colder months.

Dog trying to beat the winter blues1. Shelter

During winter, your animals will need adequate shelter, and to be protected from the rain and wind.

If they’re indoor animals, they’ll require a warm area to sleep that is elevated from the cold floor and away from drafts. Pocket pets will need extra bedding – don’t assume they’ll snuggle up together. If you have a fire place or use heaters, ensure these have safety grills and screens – otherwise your pet could burn himself.

Outside, your animal’s shelter must be warm, waterproof and windproof. This could mean a warm kennel which is elevated from the ground with thick bedding materials.

Don’t forget about farm animals – they should be able to get from their paddocks into three-sided shelters to escape the cold, rain and wind. Chooks will need extra bedding. Remember that putting a rug on a horse is not a substitute for shelter.

Remember that young, elderly and sick animals will feel the cold more than others, so are best kept indoors. No matter how old they are, in extreme weather conditions, bring them inside when possible.

A cat staying warm in winter

2. Food

Animals may need more food during the colder months to keep them warm, so don’t be surprised if your pet’s appetite increases. That’s because animals need more energy to keep their core body temperature regulated when it’s cold.

This is particularly important if your pet spends significant amounts of time outside, or is exposed to colder temperatures. However, don’t go overboard with the food. Speak to your veterinarian about how much to feed him.

3. Winter clothing

Dressing your pets in winter will help them keep them warm and maintain their body temperature when it gets colder. This is particularly important for short-coated breeds. Ensure they are comfortable – some animals don’t like wearing clothes.

Dog in bed during winter4. Health

Just like us humans, cats and dogs feel the effects of arthritis more in cold, wintry weather. If you know your pet has arthritis, keeping him warm will help ease the pain.

5. Exercise

It may be tempting to turn into a couch potato during the winter months, but exercising your animals is still important. Dogs will hate being cooped up all season. If it’s raining, you could play indoor hide-and-seek with her instead, do some trick training to keep her mind active, use food-dispensing toys to stop her from becoming bored, or organise an indoor doggy play date.