We think of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as a human condition. However have you noticed that, when winter sets in, even the happiest dogs and fluffiest felines can become a little down in the mouth too?

Although there is no evidence to show that pets suffer from SAD, they are known to echo humans – becoming downbeat during the winter months. So if your pets appear to be dispirited around this time of year, they aren’t alone.

Matt Brash, Co-op Pet Insurance’s resident vet and the star of TV series Zoo Vet at Large, explains:

I know from my own pets, and ones I have seen as a vet, this time of year can be really dull for pets. They have had a great time over Christmas: lots of walks and extra treats.

 

Now that we have all gone back to work they can often get neglected.

 

Boredom can lead to bad habits, like chewing the furniture, or messing in the house, so it is important to make sure that you keep them mentally and physically stimulated.

 

Fortunately, help is at hand. Matt Brash has compiled a short guide for dog and cat owners, exclusive to Co-op Insurance. Here are his seven top tips and insights to keeping your pets happy and well during the winter months.

 

1. Tone down the treats. If you and your pet have had one too many treats over the festive period, be sure to get them back on the straight and narrow with a nutritionally appropriate diet, in addition to regular walks or exercise.

A photo posted by ?? ?? (@heart0916) on

 

2. Winter walks. As we’re all are prone to hibernating more in the winter months, due to the dark nights and poorer weather, we might walk our pets less, making them prone to putting on weight. This can lead to sad dogs, so it is important to make sure they still get their walks regardless of the dark nights. If you are unable to walk them, be sure to cut down on their food intake.

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3. Flea treatments – As the weather gets colder, we turn our central heating on to warm the house more frequently, however this can wake up dormant fleas, and so there may be an increase in flea activity in the house, leading to itching pets, and people getting bitten. It is important to make sure flea treatments are up to date.

A photo posted by semola_thecat (@semolacat) on

 

4. Wash paws – If the weather gets really cold suddenly, then salt will be spread out on the roads and pavements to melt ice, this can be very sore on dogs and cats paws, leading to chemical burns. It is a good idea to bathe dogs feet when they come back in for a walk, and same with cats, when they’ve been out.

A photo posted by Mariska (@maris_95) on

 

5. Wrap up warm – Short-coated dog breeds, like Boxers, Greyhounds and Chihuahuas struggle to cope with the cold, so it is important to wrap them up with a coat when they venture outside for walks.

 

6. Stay away from – frozen lakes or ponds, making sure you keep your dog on a lead if you are near frozen water. If they happen to run on to the ice, don’t go after them, try to beckon them back from the edge of the water.

A photo posted by sna (@selimna) on

 

7. Bad habits – Both dogs and cats will spend more time indoors, not getting walks, which can lead to boredom, they can then start developing bad habits like chewing things like shoes, the carpet. So it’s a good idea to make sure that they also have lots of things to do to keep them occupied.

A photo posted by Sophia Wong (@sophiawongyn) on

Our bustling Facebook community has additional ideas to share:

 

“I light the coal fire and they (4 cats) lie in front of it and toast themselves”
Carol on Facebook
“Let our cat go under the duvet where she will stay sleeping for hours.”
Linda on Facebook
“I put the heating on for an hour before I leave for work so at least the house is warm for a while for her. She’s getting on a bit now so she needs more TLC in the winter months”
Raine on Facebook
“A long walk and a play with a ball and a few treats
Vicky on Facebook
“Our dog Jack get lots of love & kisses. But he wants extras when it’s cold. We snuggle together. Aah bliss.”
Sandra on Facebook
“Plenty of warm bedding & treats”
Sandra on Facebook
“My cat likes curling up under my duvet with me when it’s cold outside”
Gina on Facebook

 

Meanwhile, our Twitter followers recommend that pets are kept snug and warm:

If you are a pet owner, what are your experiences of trying to keep your animals happy and well in winter? Please share them in the comments below or jump on Facebook or Twitter to send them to us.