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Keeping your pets fit and happy this winter

As the summer days begin to fade and the long, cold winter looms, it’s worth remembering that it isn’t just us that may need a little more looking after. Our feathered, furred, and scaly friends may also require a pick me up or two.

Common problems affecting pets in winter

While you must be mindful of your pets’ health every day of the year, the winter months can bring about illnesses and complications of their own. Dogs, for example, can be prone to depression, weight gain if they aren’t exercised as regularly as usual, coughs and cold that could develop into something more serious if not treated, arthritis, skin problems, and a host of issues if they are allowed access to poisonous chemicals such as antifreeze or the new flourish of winter plants and berries growing outside. While some complaints such as arthritis and depression can be difficult to spot or prevent, it is important to take responsibility for your dog’s health; continue to take your dog for frequent walks, regardless of the weather, ensure harmful substances are kept well out of reach of pets and children, and be sure to take note of anything your dog may have consumed in the even that he or she becomes ill.

Taking care of your cat during the winter months will probably follow along these lines, as cats are also prone to weight gain, skin problems, and arthritis in the winter, as well as illnesses such as the flu. Always ensure that your cat has shelter outside, as well as a cosy spot indoors, and lock away chemicals that could be swallowed. If you have a rabbit or guinea pig that lives outside, consider bringing them in to your home or providing them with a blanket, throw, or rug to cover them when it’s very cold or windy. Remember to check their water daily to ensure that it hasn’t frozen. Even fish aren’t immune to the effects of the cold, and it can be a good idea to leave a small ball in their water so that an air hole can be created if the pond freezes over.

Helping your pet back to peak fitness

The saying that prevention is better than a cure is certainly true in the case of taking care of your pet; by doing everything that you can to ensure their wellbeing, you will already be winning the battle for a healthy pet. Responsible owners will feed their pets a balanced and nutritious diet, have them spayed or neutered to prevent unwanted pregnancies and certain health issues, ensure that their animals are regularly treated for worms, fleas, ticks, or other pests, have their pets regularly vaccinated, take the time to groom furry friends every day, look after teeth and gums, and provide a source of shelter, a warm place to sleep, constant hydration, and plenty of love, attention, and stimulation – regardless of the season.

If you notice that your pets are not acting like themselves, whether they are obviously ill, off their food, or simply a little low, it is important to seek veterinary advice as soon as possible. Some illnesses, such as colds, eye problems, and skin conditions, can usually be treated easily at home, with websites such as renowned veterinarians Bob Martin’s selling a range of medications and accessories to help you take the best care of your pet; why not check out the company’s new website for yourself? In the case of veterinary intervention, you will be advised on the correct way to care for your pet, and will usually be provided with a prescription for medication. Pills, drops, and medicines can often be purchased from pet care sites, such as Bob Martin, and often for a fraction of the cost – taking care of your pets doesn’t always have to cost the earth.

If you’ve been suffering from a cough or cold recently, or had to put on an extra layer or two in order to fend off the cold, spare a thought for your beloved pets. How are they holding up against the harsher winter months? Keep an eye out for changes in behaviour and worrying symptoms, and always remember - if you’re cold, they may well be too!