Hill’s offers tips and advice on getting through the Winter months with your pet

With the dark nights upon us and the cold front well and truly here, now is the time to get pets ready for the winter months ahead.

As the temperatures drop and the elements change, our pets are affected just as much as we humans are, and whether it’s a dog or a cat, nutrition plays a huge part in keeping them healthy at this time of year.

Many pet parents are unaware of the importance of making sure their pets are getting the correct nourishment during the colder months, helping to boost their immunity and enjoy a happy and comfortable winter.

Some dogs are made for the colder weather and you can tell this by their coats: dense, warm hair that keeps them naturally insulated. Other breeds are however not built for the cold and will easily shiver at the thought of stepping a paw outside. The cold is not just uncomfortable for them but could be hazardous.

The same applies to cat care with those breeds with shorter hair and less dense coats being much more susceptible to the cold and requiring special care.

Here are some useful tips from Hill’s Pet Nutrition to help pet owners keep furry friends safe this winter:

Top Tips to Take Care of Your Dog This Winter:

– Do not overexpose your dog to the cold weather this winter – overexposure can be just as dangerous to dogs; they are susceptible to the same cold-weather sickness and injuries that can afflict humans. This does not mean do not let your dog outside. Playing in the cold weather and snow can be a joy to dog parents and dogs alike, but as soon as you start to get cold – most likely so is your dog.

– To ensure your dog is kept warm this winter, especially shorter haired breeds, purchase a dog jacket to wear outside to keep them warm.

– Make sure when you bring them in from being outside that you thoroughly dry them off with warm towels and pay attention to their paws to remove all traces of snow or ice that may become matted in their fur.

– Like the summer with soaring temperatures, it is the same in the winter – never leave your dog unattended in the car as it can quickly become a refrigerator.

– Never leave them outside overnight and be sure to add extra blankets down in open spaces indoors.

Some signs to look out for: 

– Signs that your dog is too cold are shivering, unwillingness to go outside and clumsy movements.

– Dogs can suffer from life threatening illnesses like hypothermia and frostbite. Symptoms for hypothermia can be intense and include shivering, listlessness, and frostbite.

– Symptoms of frostbite are pale skin with a bluish/white hue due to a lack of blood flow. Veterinary attention should be sought immediately.

Top Tips to Take Care of Your Cat This Winter:

– If you have an indoor cat, they may not be affected by the drop in temperature but there are still some things to be mindful of. If your cat sleeps on the floor, you could move their bed higher so that there is less chance of them being near a draught. If your cat is older or has arthritis, they may need a little more help in the winter to get to their favourite spots around the house. Consider moving some furniture or creating a ladder for them to be able to climb up rather than jump.

– Outdoor cats should be encouraged to go outside still.

– If your cat has an outdoor shelter, raise it off the ground. Frozen ground will draw more heat from the shelter rather than circulating air. Also turn the entrance away from the wind and put down more bedding (avoid anything that can freeze or retain moisture or could become mouldy).

– If your cat has access to the garage or to your vehicle parked on the street, be very vigilant during winter as some cats may sleep on top of engines to keep warm and have shelter from the wind.

– It is very important to check that your cat has access to clean unfrozen water during the winter. If they do not, they may end up drinking from other sources which could be contaminated with household cleaners, antifreeze or road-salt. Anti-freeze is particularly attractive to cats, and highly toxic. Make sure any spillages are dealt with quickly and efficiently. If you suspect that your cat has consumed any anti-freeze, you should contact your vet immediately.

Fi Marjoram, Nurse Programme Coordinator at Hill’s Pet Nutrition comments: “Body fat, size, age, coat and overall health affect your animal’s tolerance of the cold. That’s why smaller and leaner breeds, for example, aren’t well-suited for a cold blast but breeds with thicker, denser coats are much more eager to get outside in the wintertime.”

“Nutrition plays a huge part in how healthy our pets are at this time of year, and it is so important to make sure your animal is receiving the best nutrition possible such as our clinically proven Science Plan range with antioxidants to support them through the season.”