While we've been enjoying temperate weather, change is in the air with months of cold days ahead, so precautions must be heeded for older pets or those with special needs. Start with a warm, draft free environment. Cold floors are particularly hard on the older pet with stiff and arthritic joints. Cold drafts may compromise the senior pet with the weaker immune system, making them more susceptible to illness. New specialized and heat enhancing beddIng - designed for pets - provide cozy and comfortable retreats. Do NOT use electric blankets and heated pads made for humans.
Exercise regularly. Changes in routine and lack of exercise interfere with mobility and regularity. In the younger pet this may not be a problem, but in the older one this may start a chain reaction of problems.
Protective “clothing.” In inclement weather, consider protective gear to help make sure your pet stays dry and protected from dampness and chill. Don’t forget to protect or rinse paws after walks. Salt and chemicals used for clearing roads and walkways can be caustic and even toxic if ingested. New animal safe products are now available for sidewalks, such as SafePaws.
Enhance coat and skin care. Pet guardians may be surprised to learn that skin care may be even more important in the winter because of artificial heat and lower humidity. Use moisturizing shampoos and sprays, consider supplementing with essential fatty acids, and brush regularly to help stimulate healthy skin.
Evaluate diet and nutritional supplements. Older pets may require a bit more fiber in their diets to help protect sensitive digestive systems and metabolisms. Review the ingredients in your pet’s food. Consider boosting with healthy, whole, fresh foods and supplements to help create a natural defense line - a healthy immune system. Joint issues can also flare with cold or cold, damp weather. Supplements with therapeutic levels of glucosamine, anti-inflammatory herbs and essential fatty acids may be beneficial during winter chills or throughout the year to help with mobility and flexibility.
Fresh water and fresh air. Help your older pet’s sensitive system avoid the chemicals and sediment of tap water by offering filtered or distilled water. Don’t forget cleaning and humidifying your indoor air. Older pets are often more sensitive to air pollutants, which are now trapped indoors in the cooler months.
Inspect for household hazards. Each year pet owners are warned of the danger of antifreeze, yet many pets die because of their affinity to this enticing liquid. Make sure your home and yard are free of this deadly chemical. Better yet, switch to an environmentally safer antifreeze. Other household hazards include: mothballs, toilet bowl cleaners, frayed electrical outlets, and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Massage, a bonus for you and your pet. Massage increases blood circulation, helps aches and pains, reduces blood pressure, soothes away fears, and encourages relaxation. What better way to relax, increase the bond between you and your pet, and melt away the stresses of your day?
Pet guardians may be surprised to learn that skin care may be even more important in the winter because of artificial heat and lower humidity.