The one thing you should be doing for your pet this winter

While you're rugging up this winter, it's important to be mindful of keeping your pet warm, too. 

Even though our pets may have fur or feathers, PETstock Vet, Dr Hay Chung says that they are just as vulnerable to the cold as we are. 

"Pet parents need to be aware during the cold season to look out for their furry friend in the same way they do for themselves," she says. 

Since our pets don't have the luxury of telling us when they're cold, it's up to us to be proactive. Dr Chung shares how to tell if our furry friend is cold and what it means for our pets if they get too chilly. 

How can I tell if my pet is cold?

Dr Chung says that signs your pet is cold will vary as it will depend on their size and breed.

"Puppies or elderly dogs will be more sensitive to the cold and it can be very hard on their joints. Signs of feeling too cold include shivering, trembling, cold ears, whining or barking, hunching over or curling up," she says. "The general rule is, if you find that you are cold then it means your pet is probably feeling the same."

What can happen if my pet gets too cold?

There can be serious consequences if your pet gets too cold. 

"They can develop hypothermia, which is a condition when your pet loses heat faster than it can produce heat, resulting in a dangerously low body temperature," Dr Chung explains. "Hypothermia can occur when your pet has been exposed to icy temperatures for a significant amount of time or when their fur remains wet in cold temperatures. It can lead to serious problems and in some cases become fatal."

What are the signs my pet is suffering from hypothermia?

Dr Chung says the signs for hypothermia can range from shallow breathing and weakness in mild cases, to muscle stiffness, difficulty breathing or coma in severe cases.

"Sometimes you may see frostbite on ears, tail, nose, footpads and legs," she says. "If these symptoms occur, it is important to act promptly and take your pet to a vet to ensure their condition doesn’t worsen. Your vet will take care by wrapping your pet in a blanket, placing them in a warm room and providing them with warm fluid to drink. Body temperature will then be checked every 10 minutes for signs of improvement or until it reaches its normal temperature of 38.3-39 degrees celsius."

How can I keep my pet warm?

Dr Chung suggests keeping your pets indoors when it is especially cold outside.

"Ensure the fur is not wet or matted as this can cause the fur to lose its insulation and render them susceptible to developing hypothermia," she says. "Keep all bedding dry and elevated, particularly if your pet usually sleeps on a tiled floor. Moving their bed to a carpeted floor area will help keep your pet warm and much more comfortable."

For pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs, give them extra straw or hay as Dr Chung says it will make a huge differece in their body temperature.

"Smaller dogs (pocket pets, birds included) are more susceptible to cold than larger dogs so always provide a proper shelter for outside dogs," she adds. "Winter warming apparel, such as dog coats and sweaters are also available in different sizes to help combat the cold."

Extra safety tips

Just like us, dogs lose heat through their extremities - think  paws, pads and ears.

"You can always use dog booties or dog coat with hoods to keep these extremities warm," she advises. "It is also important to keep your dog moving during the winter months so walking them during the day where temperatures are at the highest will be gentler on their paws, pads and ears."

All images courtesy of PETstock featuring their new winter coats range. 

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