Winter can be unexpectedly dangerous for pets, primarily because their human owners are so busy cocooning they sometimes neglect their pets’ needs.
- Exercise. Ooh this is a tough one. When it’s wet or icy, leaving the warmth of your home is a real challenge but for your dog’s sake it’s vitally important to keep up his exercise routine. Obesity is a huge health issue among South African pets; a condition that leads to diabetes, heart ailments and a host of other health risks. Shorten the duration of your walk, if necessary, but don’t avoid altogether, rather make it more comfortable for you both with the addition of a warm jacket (for you and your dog) and a route that avoids icy water and winds.
- Vet checks. It seems too much of an effort to brave the winter weather to take your pet for his annual checkup so you put it off until after winter. And then you forget about it altogether. An annual checkup is designed to pick up symptoms of disease early so that treatment is more successful and less costly. That half an hour at the vet clinic will not only save you money and your pet pain and discomfort, it will save you potential heart ache too.
- Vaccinations. These are very easy to put off and ultimately forget but they protect your pet against highly contagious and deadly diseases.
- Parasite control. You may not see a flea or a tick in winter but parasites are always present, often as microscopic larvae hiding in the seams of beds and furniture or deep in the carpet pile. Protect your pet year round; it’s a lot cheaper than treating for tick and flea borne diseases which can be fatal.
- Grooming. It goes without saying that muddy dogs need a brush and potentially a good wash too but all pets should be brushed regularly because this is one of the best ways of discovering hidden lumps and bumps which can be cancerous. If you find a lump or bump on your pet, don’t hesitate to take your pet to your vet. The sooner these lumps are identified, the sooner treatment can begin and the greater the chance of a successful outcome.
- Senior pets. All pets are masters at hiding pain (it’s an ancient survival technique) but almost all seniors suffer arthritis and this is especially painful during winter. If your pets show an increasing reluctance to move, can’t jump onto their usual favourite places, or cry out or growl when touched, get them to the vet ASAP. Your vet can prescribe pain and anti-inflammatory medication. At home, ensure your senior pet has a warm and soft place to sleep and can easily access his food, water and toilet.
We’re all at low energy during winter but keeping up these few habits will save you time, money and heartache in the long term.