Winter is Here. Learn about how the cold affects your furry friend.


Winter is finally here, along with the recent flooding.  Cold weather and unexpected wet environments can lead to health issues for our furry friends.  Our elderly pets are usually more affected during this cooler weather period.

I will now outline key issues faced during the winter period and strategies to help confront them.

1.Hypothermia or low body temperature is a risk for pets which spend extended periods in cold environments.  Older pets or individuals with poor circulation, health issues, short coats and a small body surface area are at even greater risk.  Pets who are hypothermic may shiver/tremble, seem weak, lethargic or depressed early on.  As their temperature drops further, their muscles may stiffen and their heart rate and respiratory rate may be reduced leading to a comatose like state.  Easy steps to prevent this include…

  • Providing shelter, whether a kennel or bringing your pet into the house to keep warm
  • Sufficient bedding/blankets, covered hot water bottles and dog coat.

2.Osteoarthritis is a common complaint with patients during winter.  Often we here owner’s saying ‘my dog is very stiff in the mornings when they first get up’, ‘he/she improves as they warm up’, ‘they are reluctant to go up/down stairs and jump as much as they used to’.  Geriatric animals or individuals with previous orthopaedic issues are generally the first to complain.  A few points to consider if you think your pet may be suffering from osteoarthritis include…

  • Once again, providing shelter, whether a kennel or bringing your pet into the house
  • Dog coats, blankets, covered hot water bottles and soft bedding can help provide warmth for your pet
  • An open fire place or heaters can be useful, but ensure pet supervision to prevent burns and injuries
  • Dietary supplements such as fish oils, chondroitin and glucosamine can help benefit joint health in some animals
  • Exercise restriction including the amount and type is very important
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight can help take pressure off animal’s joints
  • A course of injections i.e., Cartrophen or Pentosan  administered at your vet clinic can help lubricate joints and slow degenerative joint changes
  • Non steroidal Anti-inflammatories can also be used in more advanced cases

So as it starts to get cooler and you are reaching for that extra blanket or layer of clothing, spare a thought for your four legged friend.  Our pets feel the cold more then we think.  Any questions contact the Mullumbimby Veterinary Clinic on 66843818.

Article provided by Mullumbimby Veterinary Clinic.


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