Wasn’t it just summer last week? While we may still be in a bit of denial over the approach of cold weather, it doesn’t change the fact that it is looming. Our pets, especially those who are a bit older, may be facing their own set of challenges as the temperature changes. Volunteer Veterinary Hospital is here to share all of our best winter tips for senior pets as you prepare to weather the winter months.
Why Senior Pets are Special
Care for the senior pet is usually a bit more involved than for their younger counterparts. While the cold temperatures are a challenge for all, young and old, aging pets often have additional health concerns that can add to the difficulty. Take into account:
- Existing orthopedic disease/mobility issues
- Decreased muscle mass and body fat for warmth
- Vision and hearing impairments, making mobility more difficult
- Existing medical conditions that require resources to manage
It is important to understand that your senior pet may not be equipped to weather to colder temperatures, even if previously he did not have any issues. In general, a more indoor lifestyle is going to help your older animal get through the winter better. When the temperatures dip below 30 F, it is essential that your pet comes indoors.
Winter Tips for Senior Pets
There are a lot of things that you can do to keep your older friend more comfortable this winter. Read through our winter tips for senior pets to get started:
Pet grooming — While a sleek haircut may look good, it is important to remember that thicker, longer coats offer some insulation and warmth to your pet. Avoid short cuts going into the fall. Keeping your dog brushed out with help to repel water (mats don’t work at well). Consider having your pet’s long paw fur trimmed shorter to avoid accumulating mud, salt, and snow.
Get checked out – Call us to make an appointment for a check up. Senior pets should visit twice a year, and just before winter is a great time to come in for a wellness visit and be sure your pet is ready to weather the storm.
Consider nutrition – If your pet will be spending a lot of time in the cold, you may need to increase calorie intake. Winter is also the time of year when many pets become more sedentary and gain a few pounds, which can be devastating to an already arthritic pet. We are happy to help you assess your dog’s nutritional needs.
Support mobility – Arthritis can worsen in the colder weather. Be sure that we have discussed a plan for your pet’s joint support. Consider adding traction to outdoor steps and ramps and keep hair on the feet trimmed and nails cut short in order to add traction and allow the paw pads to contact the ground better.
Make a supply list – You may need some additional pet care items for the cold weather as well. If your pet is outdoors most of the day, a heated water bowl for unlimited access to fresh, unfrozen water is a must. You might also consider items like jackets, sweaters, and booties depending on your pet’s health status and lifestyle. Paw protection such as Musher’s Secret can be helpful to protect tender or cracked pads.
Winter is coming, like it or not, but our our winter tips for senior pets will help you and your furry friends weather the storm. Give us a call to find out more!