It’s important to give your senior pet some extra attention during the winter months. Joint pain, dulled senses and the difficulty to regulate body temperature can make cold weather uncomfortable and even dangerous for senior pets. Pet owners need to provide adequate nutrition and hydration for their pets, keep them warm and dry, and make any necessary adjustments to their senior pet’s exercise routine.
With cold weather setting in, ensure your senior pet is happy, safe and comfortable by following the tips below:
Keeping Your Pets Warm
Since it’s difficult to regulate the body temperature in senior pets during cold weather and elderly pets become more frail due to cold weather, it’s very important to find ways to keep them warm. There are plenty of ways to help your pet stay warmer from using an electric heated blanket to adding additional blankets and bedding to their sleeping area.Your senior pet’s bedding should be kept away from cold, drafty areas, but also not too close to heat sources.
An orthopedic bed that protects your pet’s joints and bones should be provided to your senior pet. The bed should be placed in an area of your home that maintains a comfortable temperature year-round. A raised pet bed also helps with joint support and will help to keep your pet off the cold floor.
Providing Joint Supplements to Your Pet
Just like humans, a pet with arthritis may stiffen up during the winter months. Joint supplements can help ease inflammation and soothe aches and pains that many older pets suffer from, due to osteoarthritis. A veterinarian should be consulted about the best joint supplement for your pet’s needs. They may even recommend a stronger prescription, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory to help manage arthritis pain during the colder months.
Outdoor Exercising With Your Senior Pet
Even though it’s colder outside, it doesn’t mean your senior dog should go without the necessary exercise he needs. During all seasons of weather, walking with your dog not only helps to maintain your dog’s cardiovascular system and joints/muscles but also provides mental stimulation which is vital for your pet’s wellbeing. Keep in mind, a lack of exercise can cause your pet’s joints to become even more stiff and painful.
With that being said, during cold weather, it’s vital to still exercise with your dog, but you’ll want to minimize the time spent outdoors and always dress them accordingly. Since senior dogs have a higher risk of breaking their bones, using both a harness and collar will help to provide the necessary support while exercising outside.
However, exercising your dog in extreme cold temperatures should be avoided at all costs, since these conditions can cause a senior dog’s body temperature to drop dramatically. During the winter, hypothermia and frostbite are both more common in senior dogs, so exercising in extreme temperatures should be avoided.
If your senior dog is not capable of taking a walk in cold weather, or the weather is just too extreme, you’ll still want to provide some indoor mental stimulation to them.
Dressing Your Senior Pet Appropriately
Besides using a harness and collar for additional support, you’ll also want to outfit your senior dog appropriately for the colder weather. You can use a waterproof jacket or vest to prevent them from getting too cold as well as booties for their paws to not only keep the paws warm, but to keep any ice, snow or dangerous de-icing salts/chemicals off their paws.
Senior Pet Diet
During the colder temperatures, you want to avoid excessive weight gain on your senior pet, which is common due to the lessened exercise they may be receiving. If they are not receiving as much exercise, you’ll need to moderate their diet to avoid this extra weight gain. If you’re able to continue being active with your senior dog, consider adding more protein to their diet to provide additional energy for them.
Additionally, your veterinarian may suggest adding supplements to their diet to help with muscle and joint lubrication. Always consult with your veterinarian before changing your senior pet’s diet. They will want to discuss how active your pet is, as well as any other health issues to determine what, if any, change of diet needs to occur.
Cold Weather Grooming
Depending on the type of coat your dog has, typically a dog should not be bathed more than every 12 weeks. Since overwashing can wash away the natural oils in your pet’s coat, especially in colder weather, you’ll want to avoid over-bathing. Furthermore, since the colder temperatures can cause your pet’s skin to become extremely dry, causing skin irritation, you’ll want to moisturize your dog’s skin. Giving your senior pet a regular dose of coconut oil can help with both the fur and skin of your pet. Regular brushing is also important during the colder months. A weekly brushing will help to keep your pet’s fur clean and healthy.
Maintain Veterinarian Appointments
Typically, elderly dogs have a tendency to be weaker and the winter months can take a toll on their health. Because of this, they may be more prone to health issues which increase the need for regular vet visits. Additionally, since your senior pet’s joints and bones can be severely affected by colder temperatures, and you also may be considering changing their diet due to lack of exercise, it’s important to check with your vet first.
Some veterinarians may suggest that you bring your senior pet to the vet clinic not just once a year, but twice or even every four to five months, so they can monitor your pet’s health. Health issues in senior pets can appear fast and develop just as fast, reaching a level where they might be more difficult to treat. Furthermore, with other complications such as obesity, arthritis, diabetes, or other old age diseases, this can make recovery more lengthy and complicated.
By keeping your senior pet warm, maintaining a safe exercise routine, appropriately dressing and grooming them, and continuing a positive relationship with your veterinarian, the colder months will be more enjoyable for both you and your senior pet.