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Warm and happy in Winter wonderland!

Winter is a wonderland – our four-legged friends too need that extra care to keep them warm, hygienic and safe during this time.

Many fellow beings live with a misconception that their pets have a coat of fur so that they are able to withstand the cold better than humans. This is not the case. Like us, these fur-coated creatures too are accustomed to the warmth of indoor shelter and cold weather can be as hard on them as it is on us – humans. Puppies or senior dogs with arthritis or those who are sick with compromised immunity or renal conditions require close attention. Here are few tips to keep your furry being healthy and happy in this winter wonderland.
Outdoor fun activities when the sun shines: Keep her indoors, for the daily doses of Untitled-32parkland walks, you could resort to walking them out in late mornings or early evenings rather than going out in early wee hours or late nights. You may also enjoy fun games when sun is out; this partial sun bath shall energise both you and your pet with much needed vitamin D. Play fetch with toys, not sticks as they can cause choking and severe injuries. So, if your dog likes to chew and chase, pack a Frisbee, tennis ball or other toy and play together in the sun. When outdoors with your pet, watch for theses signs of exposure: Whining, Shivering, Appearing Anxious, Slowing Down, Stopping Movement and Looking for Places to Burrow.
If you notice any of these signs, return your pet indoors immediately.
Bundle up dressing: Long-haired breeds like Huskies do better in cold weather than short-haired breeds like Dachshunds.  Bundle up your dog. Dress your dog in a warm coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck; it should cover her back from the base of her tail and also protect her belly. Provide extra beddings such as rugs/blankets and ensure that they don’t sleep on uncarpeted areas or floors.
No overfeeding please: Because it takes more energy to stay warm when it’s cold. Your dog may be eyeing your food, understand those signs and feed him with small meals at regular intervals. However, make sure that diet is non-fatty and non-sugary. Likewise, water is vital for maintaining your pet’s health. Dogs can dehydrate even in winters as they do in summers.
Care for feet and grooming a must: Frosting is a serious problem during winter, especially for paws, tips of tails and ears. Just as we tend to develop foot cracks in winters, dogs tend to get cracks in their pads.
Trim your dog’s paws regularly in this season. If your dog has furry feet, trim the hair that grows between your dog’s toes and under his feet during the winter to prevent ice buildup between the paw pads. Thickened fur coat and brushing hairs regularly helps insulation.
Don’t leave them unattended! You should also not let your dog wander too far during his walks. Never leave him unattended.
Watch for the signs of frostbite and hypothermia: The risk of these conditions is especially high when the temperature dips. Frostbite typically affects poorly insulated body parts such as the tips of the ears and is evidenced by skin that is pale or red, swollen and painful or numb. Signs of hypothermia include slow pulse, shallow breathing, disorientation, collapse and unconsciousness. If you think your dog has either, call your vet immediately!
What to do for hypothermia:

  • Get your pet indoors and warm.
  • Wrap your pet in blankets and take him to the veterinarian.
  • Your veterinarian will, if necessary, monitor your pet’s heart rate and blood pressure and give warm fluids through an IV.

It’s known that dogs have innate art of survival; however your loyal friend needs that extra care. After all, who doesn’t want our buddy wagging his tail and leaping up to us in cold weather to give that priceless cuddling experience!
(Mayuresh Abhyankar is from Medical Services at SAVA Healthcare Limited).

Pomeranian-Tips for keeping pets warm and healthy during winters

Groom your pooch, make him shine with health and beauty. Here are a few tips to make grooming sessions enjoyable for you both:

  • Establish and adhere to a regular schedule of grooming sessions.
  • Schedule these at a convenient time for both; a good time to do this is after the dog has been walked, while he is relieved and calm.
  • Select a time when you will not be interrupted and have ample time to do a proper grooming; longhaired dogs should be groomed daily, while shorthaired breeds may require grooming only twice a week.
  • For puppies, set a time when the puppy is less energetic and begin with short grooming sessions, say for five minutes.
  • Constantly talk to the puppy in a gentle, reassuring tone while grooming to make him feel comfortable.
  • Put the hair aside and examine the skin closely for signs of fleas, ticks or skin irritations.
  • Look for any unusual problems with his coat, viz matts, tangles, dandruff, etc.
  • Let the dog sniff the brush and comb before you begin grooming, and then talk to the pet in a reassuring tone while grooming; if the grooming procedure is made comfortable for the dog, he will begin to look forward to regular grooming sessions.
  • Do regular combing and brushing, which will keep his coat clean and healthy and stimulate skin.
  • Comb in the direction of hair growth, combing small sections at a time, until the coat is tangle free.
  • Use anti-tangle comb for troublesome knots and tangles; and if the coat has a particularly stubborn knot or tangle, trim it off with scissors.
  • Use a dematting comb, slicker or rake to remove matts.
  • Begin with the widely spaced teeth and follow with the finer teeth, using a combination comb.
  • Start brushing at the head, working towards the tail and down the legs.
  • Pay particular attention to the legs and flanks, and areas that easily matt.
  • Use a pin brush to fluff the coat.
  • Check areas for hair loss, inflammation, unusual tenderness or lumps under the skin; constant scratching in a particular area may also be an indication of a problem.
  • Consult your vet in case you find any unusual roblems.
  • Learn where the pet likes to be combed and brushed and where he doesn’t because all dogs have sensitive areas that need to be groomed a little more gently and carefully than others; by doing so, one will help the pet to make him more comfortable.
  • Be sure to check the puppy’s ears, paws, teeth, and underside during the grooming procedure for making him accustomed to being handled and examined.
  • Trim his nails regularly.
  • Never use ordinary scissors to trim the dog’s nails. Use trimmers that are specially designed for dogs.
  • During nail trimming, hold the dog’s paw firmly, and cut off the tip of the nail with a single stroke; also be very careful to stop short of the quick, the blood vessel inside the nail.
  • Use conditioned shampoo (properly balanced pH) specially made for dog’s bath.
  • After proper rinsing, ensure adequate drying of coat, especially for longhaired breeds, so that no excess moisture under hair coat is retained.
  • In case of ectoparasitic infestation, adhere strictly to the advice of vet, regarding dilution of drug, technique of application and follow up.
  • Be more careful about puppies; until and unless heavy dirt or any medical requirement, generally puppies are not given bath up to three months of age.

Keeping your pooch warm in winters

For most pet lovers trying to envisage a moment of absolute contentment, the image of sitting in the wintry sunshine with their pet animal in their lap would probably come forth unbidden. For any pet lover, the word “warm cuddle” would evince the response “my pet” as the season for warm cuddles with our furry friends is round the corner. It seems that by some divine design our dogs and cats have been specially attired for this season. But nothing puts a bigger dampener on this season of cheer than a bout of cold, cough and sneezes. Some of us have an unfortunate tendency of believing that our pets don’t succumb to the vagaries of winter as easily as we do. The truth is that they need as much care to be able to return that warm cuddle.

Following is a list of do’s and don’ts to help you give your pets the cold weather care they deserve.

  • Pups are unable to handle extreme weather conditions so make sure they are always well covered. Pay special attention at night time as pups may fall asleep on the bare floor and catch a bad chill. A warm bedding with a cosy blanket should suffice. Its better to serve warm food. Avoid giving cold water, curd, ice creams etc. A warm water sponge is a better alternative to bathing.
  • All the vaccinations and deworming should be up to date as viruses thrive at this time of the year.
  • A change of season is the time when the physiological apparatus of the body is under duress and leads to a lowered resistance against common diseases. So make sure the pet is well nourished. Switching to a commercial dry dog food will make things simpler. The food should be calorie rich to generate enough energy to cope with the cold especially so for dogs living at higher altitudes. An increase in fats and proteins is also recommended.
  • Protect your pet with woollen clothes as per the individual requirement. In places where it snows, the pet should be kept indoors to avoid unnecessary exposure and to prevent snow related accidents. Specially designed footwear for dog paws should be used when taking out for walks to prevent frostbite.
  • Towel or blow-dry your dog if he gets wet from rain or snow. Pay special attention to paws. Vaseline can be used to remedy dry paws, muzzle and small cracks/cuts.
  • Outdoor dogs need extra protection in the form of an elevated, well-covered shelter to protect against the cold breeze. Extreme cold conditions warrant the use of heaters equipped with humidifiers.
  • Change walk timings to later in the morning and earlier in the evening. Apart from providing them with sunlight it will also keep them away from chilly part of the day.
  • Do not clip your pet’s hair at this time of the year as it provides them with natural insulation. Most dogs shed their summer coats before getting a new winter coat. Dry skin is common in indoor pets probably because of use of heaters leading to low humidity. To remedy this frequent brushing and providing them with hair care supplements is advised.
  • Ideally bring down the bathing frequency to once in 2 months.
  • Dogs are just as likely to get dehydrated in winters as in summers, so always provide them with fresh water.
  • People who have never experienced their pet having a cough might confuse it for retching/vomiting. A cough, if left untreated, may develop into pneumonia. There can also be heavy dripping from the nose or a thick nasal/ocular discharge. Causes might include a simple bacterial infection or an influenza virus in unvaccinated dogs.
  • Smog might trigger an attack in an asthmatic dog so be well prepared in advance with emergency medicines. Allergies are common with the change in season and can simply be remedied with anti-allergy drugs.
  • Vomiting and loose motions could be a simple reaction to the season change or a bacterial infection. It can also indicate the presence of deadly virus such as canine parvovirus or canine distemper. Either ways do not delay the treatment.
  • Old dogs should be showered with the kind of care and attention that we would give to our grandparents or any other old person for that matter. Old age can inflict several problems like arthritis, lowered immunity to respiratory infections, heart ailments, etc. The winter cold can exacerbate any such existing problem. If your dog has trouble getting up, sitting down, is limping or gets stiff after exercise, these could be the initial warning signs of osteoarthritis. This is a degenerative joint disease and appropriate medication for pain relief should be provided. Supplements like cod liver oil have proven to be helpful.

So here’s wishing all the pets a healthy, warm and a cheery winter.

(Dr. Kamaldeep Chaggar started working with animals at the age of 13 at her father’s clinic. She  did her B.V.Sc & A.H. from P.A.U. Ludhiana. After graduating, she moved to London to further enhance her veterinary skills. For the past 6 years, in partnership with her vet brother Dr R.S. Chaggar, she has been operating from their three privately owned practices in South Delhi. Call her at : 9811389089.)