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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our bustling Facebook community has additional ideas to share:
Carol on Facebook
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Sandra on Facebook
Gina on Facebook
Meanwhile, our Twitter followers recommend that pets are kept snug and warm:
set up the house for a sunny sits for cat sleeping (or viewing) – & a litter tray so u don't have to go out in poor weather pic.twitter.com/Rfhhjkd0ex
— Siân (@terrier_sian) January 25, 2017