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Unfortunately this is something our pets don’t have the luxury of doing. Some breeds of dogs and cats are lucky enough to have a double coat, made up of a soft undercoat and a coarser topcoat. This under coat acts as insulation, therefore pets that only have a single coat or are hairless have less protection against the chills of winter. There are so many ways we as pet owners can help our pets stay warm and safe when those times come where we have to go out and leave them in the cold yard.
Shelter is a necessity, if they can’t get into the house through a dog flap or open window, then another means of shelter must be available for them. Both dogs and cats should have a kennel or cat box that is easily accessible to them. It should be dry, draft–free and large enough for them to sit, lie and turn around in, but not too big that it doesn’t keep in their natural body heat.
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In the shelter it is best to lay it with a comfortable and warm blanket, but if you have a dog that loves to drag said blanket through the rain and mud then it would be better to use straw which should be available at most pet shops for rabbit hutches.
Pet clothing can help to keep your dog warm through winter, especially for the smaller dogs, single coat dogs and hairless breeds. Be sure when dressing your dog that the clothing fits comfortably in all the rite areas and is not in the danger zone of getting wet when nature calls. If your pet is going to be outside for a considerable amount of time then look for pet clothing that has a water proof outer layer to ensure your pet doesn’t end up sitting in cold wet material which could lead them into Hypothermia. Hypothermia is when the animal’s body temperature falls dramatically below the normal temperature. This is extremely dangerous and can be deadly, if your pet shows any signs of excessive shivering, respiratory issues, lethargy, weakness and gums pale or bluish, then your pet needs to be wrapped in warm blankets and rushed to your Vet.
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Grooming is still essential during the winter times but remember that your pet needs its layered fur to keep warm. If the fur becomes tattered and clumped the fur will no longer act as an insulator and will not be water resistant, regular brushing for your thick, long-hair pets needs to be done to ensure this does not happen.
Bathing is another activity that can still be done during the winter times but if possible try using your bathtub to bath your pet in and ensure they are dried as much as possible before letting them outside in the cold.
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Keeping your pet warm and away from the cold wet rain goes a long way in keeping them healthy. We as pet owners need to remember that just as we catch colds in the colder seasons so can our pets. Dogs can suffer from Kennel cough while cats suffer from cat flu both are upper respiratory infections. Viral and bacterial causes of canine cough are spread through airborne droplets produced by sneezing and coughing. Prevention for these sicknesses and others would be to ensure your pets are up to date with their vaccinations as well as ensuring that their overall health and immune system is strong. If your pet does show any flu like symptoms (sneezing, coughing, runny nose & eyes.) then they need to be brought to your vet so that antibiotics can be administered.
Also take into consideration with your older pet, especially dogs suffering with arthritis. Arthritis and osteoarthritis can be exacerbated by the cold weather. Talk to your vet about medication or treatment options.
Our pets rely and trust us to keep them healthy and safe, if you are ever unsure and need some direction, your local vet will be more than happy to lend a helping word of advice or you can have a look on our website and blog for informative leaflets and articles. www.tah.co.za
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