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Five tips to help your pets through winter

Keep in mind that if you’re feeling the cold, your pet is too, even with his fur coat.

AS the cold winter month approaches and residents begin to retrieve their winter wardrobe, dressing in layers and dusting off heaters and fireplaces, spare a thought for your furry friends as well.

The Pet Food Industry Association of Southern Africa (PFI), a non-profit association, has provided a few tips to help see them through the chilly months.

If you’re cold, they’re cold: It’s particularly important during the colder months to keep your pets dry and warm. Keeping them inside is your best bet, but if this is not suitable for your circumstances, provide adequate shelter that is protected from wind and rain as well as additional warmth – blankets and pet jerseys work well. Keep in mind that if you’re feeling the cold, your pet is too, even with his fur coat.

Be extra cautious: Be aware that pets will seek warmth in weird and wonderful places, especially cats. Underneath the bonnet of the car is particularly enticing, so always check carefully or give the bonnet a few knocks before starting the engine and heading out so as to avoid injuring your cat.

Ensure nutritional requirements are being met: Complete nutrition and access to fresh, clean water is always important, but never more so than during winter. You may also find that your pet’s intake may need to be adjusted to match their changing energy requirements – some pets will spend more time sleeping inside (to conserve warmth and energy) while others are more exposed to the cold (outdoors), so will require a bit more sustenance to sustain a higher body temperature and support higher energy requirements. Always choose a pet food brand that has committed to putting the health and nutritional well-being of your pet first.

Adjust you exercise routine: Although winter days are shorter, help your best friend remain stimulated and in shape by maintaining a routine of regular exercise, even if this means walking earlier in the evening or later in the morning. Adding a few extra minutes of training and games can compensate for lesser exercise time.

Special care for older pets: Ageing pets need a little extra tender loving care in winter as age-related health issues can often be intensified in the cold. Pain associated with arthritis can be alleviated by installing ramps where necessary and providing extra bed padding or blankets and positioning beds in warmer areas.

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