Winter weight a worry

How to ensure your pets stay healthy this winter.

There is nothing better than cosying up on the couch with your pet and some comfort food on a cold winter day.

However, the creature comforts enjoyed during the cooler months could have a negative impact on our pets.

Animal Welfare League Queensland rehoming partner Petstock vet Dr Sasha Nefedova said our winter habits could rub off on our animals. 

“Your pet may spend more time lying down during the winter months, because just like us, the cold weather tends to slow them down to conserve energy and keep warm,” Dr Nefedova said. 

“Pets need a well-balanced diet and it’s particularly vital to maintain a healthy weight for your pet over the cooler months.

“If your cat or dog is overweight, it can lead to severe health conditions such as heart disease, joint problems and arthritis, respiratory problems, diabetes, skin issues and even premature ageing.”

Dr Nefedova advised pet owners to avoid spoiling their pets.

“While you may want to spoil your pet and give them extra treats while spending more time indoors, over-feeding could cause weight gain or other health-related issues,” she said.

“If you want to feed extra treats to your pet throughout the day, asses how much you’re feeding them and give them less food at mealtimes to balance out the treats.”

TIPS TO KEEP YOUR PET WARM THIS WINTER

Dr Nefedova said regular exercise could assist with many health and behavioural issues.

“Ensuring your pet has regular exercise is necessary to maintain their optimal physical health and mental wellbeing,” she said.

“In addition to the obvious benefits, regular exercise for your four-legged friend can assist in reducing digestive problems and constipation, as well as build confidence in fearful dogs. 

“Keeping your pet active and energised can also help reduce some common behavioural problems like anxiety, barking, digging and chewing.”

Despite many animals growing thick winter coats, Dr Nefedova said pets required regular grooming in the cooler months.

“A winter coat can hide trouble, such as lumps, bumps or sores, which is another good reason to keep brushing regularly,” she said.

“It can also help identify and control fleas and ensure that your pet’s coat does not become matted and uncomfortable. 

“As you brush, feel and look carefully for signs of illness and check in with your local vet if you come across anything suspect."