Plan Ahead for Fall and Winter Pet Care
Depending on where you live, and how much time you and your pets spends outdoors, it’s a good idea to start planning for a little more chill in the air – even snow on the ground – when October rolls around. Now’s the time to think about how the change of seasons may impact your pet. Drier air, cold and wet conditions can have a dramatic impact on pet health. Here are some ways to protect your pets this winter.
Housing for Outdoor Animals
If you live in the country and care for larger animals like horses or cattle that are accustomed to spending time outside in all sorts of weather, you’re well-aware of the preventive measures needed to keep animals safe in the elements. For city and suburban dwellers, our dogs and cats may also spend time outside, and we need to ensure their care and comfort. Check dog houses for any needed improvements to insulation. Make sure that cats can get inside easily should the weather turn. A good rule of thumb – if it’s too cold for you to be outside without a coat, hat and gloves, it’s too cold for your pet as well.
As fall approaches, animals in cooler climates tend to shed a bit more in preparation for the growth of their winter coat. Regular brushing can keep skin and coat free of dry, dead hair and help promote a shiny, healthy coat that provides better insulation against the cold. If you exercise your pet in the snow, be sure to apply a paw protection product to keep tender paw pads protected. Professional grooming may be an option, too. Groomers get busy as the holidays approach, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time if you anticipate making an appointment for pre-holiday grooming.
Dietary and Water Considerations
Cooler weather may increase your pet’s appetite, especially if they spend a lot of time outside. Check with your vet to see if you need to adjust how much you’re feeding, or the type of food you offer your pet. Animals also need more water during colder months, due to the heat in your home and to prevent dry skin. Make sure that water is plentiful, and if your pet spends time outside, ensure that their water dish doesn’t freeze over in the cold.
Pets and Kids (When Relatives Come to Visit)
Family get togethers during the upcoming holidays can be more relaxing for everyone with a bit of planning. If you’re expecting small children to visit, and your pet isn’t accustomed to that type of attention, consider boarding or at least having a plan to keep all parties safe and comfortable. Kennels tend to book up quickly around the holidays, so now’s the time to make a reservation if you think your pet will be more comfortable while guests are in town.
Pets and Plants and Decorations
Cats are naturally curious when anything new comes into their territory, so taking care with holiday decorations and especially with plants is important his time of year. It may be tough to keep kitty from climbing the Christmas tree or scaling the mantle for a closer look at holiday cards. A greater concern are plants like lilies that may be part of a holiday bouquet. For cats, lilies are deadly when consumed, so be sure to keep them out of reach or out of your house completely if you own a cat.
Pets and Holiday Foods
Unless your dog is one with remarkable self-restraint, your holiday turkey, pie or candy may be considered fair game if it’s within reach. To avoid illness or injury, keep food out of reach or covered when you’re out of the room. Chocolate is tempting but dangerous for dogs, and although turkey may seem harmless, it’s not recommended for dogs either. This helpful list offers some additional information about keeping pets safe.
With a little extra planning and preparation, you and your pets can enjoy the change of seasons and all of the fun and activity that the holidays bring.