Keeping Pets Healthy in the Winter
As the days and nights get colder in the United States, we take extra precautions to protect our own and our loved ones’ health. While stocking up on vitamins and bundling up children to protect your family from getting sick is important, don’t forget other members of your household – your pets. Your cats and dogs’ health can also suffer during the winter, which is why you should ensure that they are taken care of during this time. In this article, we will provide tips on keeping pets healthy and safe in the winter.
Keep Them Inside – Unless you live in warmer parts of the country, consider limiting your pet’s time outside if your area is experiencing freezing weather, snow and/ or rain. Locking your pet outside, or allowing them to go in or out while you are not home, can lead to them getting hypothermia and frostbite; pets are most susceptible to frostbite on their extremities, such as feet, tail and ears. Purchase or make sweaters, booties and even a hat for your pet, especially those with short hair, to help them be warm and look that much cuter.
Build a Suitable Shelter – If you choose to keep your pet outside, consider building them a warm, dry and draft-free shelter if you don’t want them in the house. This area should be small to maximize the preservation of body heat, but big enough that your pet can stretch out.
Avoid Salt and Antifreeze – Salt and antifreeze are everywhere in freezing weather, but both pose serious risks to pets. Although salt is used to melt ice and snow, it can be a big irritant to pets’ paws and mouth. Wipe off your dogs and cats’ feet after going outside. Antifreeze has a sweet smell that is very enticing to pets; however, it can be poisonous and deadly. Keep your antifreeze away from pets’ reach, and be diligent about cleaning any spills.
Food and Health Adjustments
Adjust Food and Water Routines – Depending on where your pet spends their time in the winter, inside or outside, their food and water routines should be adjusted. Cats and dogs that are kept in the cold air should have access to an increased amount of warm food, as they will need it in order to have more energy to keep their bodies warm. Furthermore, owners will need to check water bowls to make sure they have not frozen over. Switching metal food and water containers to plastic may be necessary in freezing weather so your pets’ tongues don’t stick to the bowls. We recommend adding a few drops of Dr. Willard’s Vibrant Pet Water Drops into their water bowls as well. This will help your companion absorb more of the nutrients from both the food and water they’re getting, which is especially important during colder months because their bodies expend more energy trying to stay warm and thus require more resources. If your pet resides on the other end of the spectrum and prefers to spend the winter months sleeping more, their diets should be adjusted in the opposite direction. These types of indoor animals typically require less food, and if kept on the same diet may put on undesirable weight.
Protect Their Skin – Just as people’s skin requires extra attention in the colder months, so does your pet’s skin. Dry air and humid and windy temperatures can lead to dry, flaky and itchy skin. To protect your pet’s fur from dandruff and sensitivity, limit how often you wash them with soap and shampoo, as that can strip the skin and fur of its natural moisture, and lead to dryness and dandruff. Take a holistic approach by protecting your dog and cat’s skin with Dr. Willard’s Soothing Aloe Gel for Pets, a formula made with natural ingredients, which will moisturize the skin and temporarily prevent itching. It’s especially important this time of year to keep the skin hydrated, we cannot stress this enough. Adding essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 or omega-6, may also help to promote healthy skin.
Natural Remedies – Just as people tend to catch more colds in the winter, so do cats and dogs. However, there are natural remedies that can help them to get better without the side effects of many pet medications. For treating cough, a wild cherry bark cough syrup (Prunus serotina), as well as horehound, (Marrubium vulgare), can be helpful. Utilize steam to clear out your pet’s bronchial passages by turning on a humidifier, just make sure it is placed away from their reach.
Also, adding Vitamin C in a sodium acerbate version to your pet’s food is an easy way to improve their immune system function to protect them from getting sick in the first place.