Winter, Summer and Your Pets
Winter weather and seasonal changes affect our pets as much as it does us. Some dogs can even sense when the weather is about to change. However, if your pet seems a bit off during the ‘extreme temperature’ months, it could simply be that they are getting cold or too hot and just don’t want to play.
Warm weather and your fur-babies
Welcome to South Africa, where it is extra hot and humid during the summer months! And just like you, your pet could be ‘off’ because, well, it is hot. If your pet doesn’t want to play and seems okay otherwise, give them some space (they will cheer up later in the evening when it is cooler), a cool place to nap and a lot of water.
Some dog breeds do not tolerate the heat very well, such as Bulldogs, Pugs, Boston Terriers and many large long-haired dog breeds. Remember, pets still need their daily exercise, but keep an eye out for any skin or breathing problems during very hot months that could be causing them discomfort, and keep exercise to early mornings or late in the cooler evenings.
Cats can also suffer from skin problems, which are more common during summer. Heat causes more than normal scratching and an increase in skin bacteria and rashes; tender and red skin, scabs, sores and continuous licking may result.
Don’t panic move to Alaska yet!
- If your cat or dog experiences skin problems, bath them regularly with a hypoallergenic shampoo.
- Add natural omega-3 supplements to their diet. Your vet will know the best type for your pet.
- After each walk, clean their paws with a damp cloth to get rid of any irritants.
- Let your dog cool off indoors instead of keeping them outside in the sun. Your cat will find a cosy and cool place to stay in the house, so don’t freak out if you go to the bathroom and a fluffy thing moves in the corner (It happens more than you think!)
- Brush your dog regularly. Matted fur can trap heat within the coat and cause your dog to overheat.
Winter and your pets
And as summer comes to an end and cooler weather starts rolling in, remember to adjust the home to accommodate your pets. Older or sick pets are more sensitive to winter weather, so keep them indoors and as comfortable as possible.
Fluffy, comfy dog and cat beds are a must-have in winter. Dogs with stiff muscles and joints love the Dog-O-Pedic. If your pet doesn’t mind a blanket, then a fleece is perfect. However, if you have a German Shepherd, Saint Bernard, Siberian Husky, Akita or Newfoundland, or other double-coated dog that loves cold weather, don’t force them to snuggle up all day. These dogs do well outside and can be brought in to the warmer home when it is colder than usual outside or in the evenings to sleep.
Just like in the summer, brush your dog’s fur regularly. The dry air depletes the moisture from their skin and fur and brushing will increase circulation and avoid too much moisture loss. Never shave your dog down to the skin. Leave fur longer for warmth and after a bath make sure your dog is completely dry. Cats can also be brushed, but we don’t recommend getting your cat wet during winter. You will lose that fight.
Some frosted tips:
- Use a humidifier to avoid dry noses and irritated skin.
- Portable heaters or fireplaces can help keep a room warm, but never leave pets unattended when a heater is on or a fire is burning.
- Keep pets indoors. Talk to your neighbours if they leave their pets outside, especially during the night when temperatures become lower.
- Your pets will sleep and eat more in order to keep heat reserves. Curl up next to them and stay warm with them!
- Pets with joint problems must be kept warm. If they move slower, that is normal. (Even we move slower when it’s cold.)
Cats and dogs are similar to us. Whether it’s hot or cold, think about your pets. Stay comfortable and safe with your pets. If you have any concerns, or your pet is behaving strangely, contact your local vet for advice.