Care is the best way to your pooch love!

The monsoon has ended and before we know it, winter is upon us. It’s time to bring the woollens out and get ready for the nip in the air. But what about our furry family members? Winter nutrition? Luckily for them, the fur does the job of insulating them from the cold, but there is much more that connects this season and your dog’s health. –by Mitu Paul

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More than being just a change of season, we must look at managing a change in the dog’s daily diet. While we are aware that we must eat different vegetables and fruits in winter, we don’t seem to do the same for our pet dogs. Most pet parents are unaware of the significance of switching the dog’s nutritional regimen in these cold months. Just like humans, dogs can start to feel hungrier in winter and they do need to put on some extra fat to combat the cold. Likewise, when the evenings start to get lighter, you can reduce your dog’s food intake.

In winters, dogs may change exercise and eating habits because of the cold weather. Studies have shown that dogs require more calories to stay warm in chilly temperatures. You may say that you put on sweaters on your pooch and feed them bigger meals, and that is great. But some dogs don’t like dressing up and if it’s too cold, some of the smaller breeds might have trouble eating enough to stay healthy.

Then there are those who will continue to eat the same amount of food as they do other times, but because of the cold, they get far less exercise. And this can turn them into fat couch-potatoes. And a fat dog is in no way a healthy dog.

Increase calories

If your dog loves winter and likes to spend his time outside, you must look at increasing the amount of food that you offer him. Instead of feeding one or two meals a day, move to smaller but more frequent servings. Add some warm, no-salt chicken broth to the food to make it more appetizing. If your dog is showing signs of food pickiness, this will definitely increase food intake by about 10 percent. In addition to this, you can also add cream, viscera, milk, and food that contain vitamin-A and fat. It will enhance your dog’s ability of fighting cold. Make sure not to offer these food items to your dog for a very long time, otherwise you will hurt your dog’s health. For example, if your pooch drinks milk for long period, he may suffer from diarrhoea and other symptoms. Therefore, it is advised that you should distribute the dog food reasonably and offer more pet products for your dog.

Guard the treats

Pay attention to what your dog gets to eat. If he is going to laze the winter away, then you must reduce empty carbs and definitely cut down on treats and table scraps. Focus on keeping his waist trim. If you can’t reduce or stop treats, look for healthier low-calorie options instead. Don’t let food be lying around for him to eat as and when he pleases, but measure it up carefully to monitor daily calorie intake.

Coat health

The only thing keeping your dog snug and warm in winter is his coat. And its condition is directly related to the nutrition he receives. Does your dog have food allergies? This can lead to a dry, rough and thin coat. Winter is a good time to evaluate what your dog eats and how it impacts his fur.

Don’t forget skin

Your dog’s skin health is equally important during winter. Just like us, they can be prone to dry and cracked skin, which can worsen during winter. To prevent dry, chapped or cracked skin or paws, make sure your dog’s diet includes plenty of food that contains a lot of omega fatty acids.

More supplements

We can’t say this enough! Winter is a time when your pet could need more supplements. It could be something that aids digestion or aid for those painful arthritic joints that swell up in winter. Talk to your vet and decide on the best supplements to help your dog make the transition through winter seamlessly.

Prevent dehydration

Winter is a dry season and this can increase the chances of dehydration in your dog. Dogs can dehydrate quickly in the winter as in the summer. Therefore, often check the water bowl of your dog.

Special puppy care

How cold is too cold for puppies? So, the thumb rule is… when we feel cold, they feel too. Dogs can’t retain body heat, hence we often see them shivering when on a cold floor. Puppies need special care when the temperatures start to fall below 17oC. Some cold-averse breeds will get uncomfortable and will need protection. For pet parent of small breeds, puppies, senior dogs, or thin-haired breeds, anytime the temperature outside feels at or below 17oC, pull out the sweaters or coats!

A soft bed and a thick blanket should provide plenty of warmth for your pup during the winter. However, if your dog sleeps in a particularly draughty or chilly part of the house, consider getting a self-warming pet mat, which retains your dog’s body heat, or a mat with a removable microwavable heating pad.

Make it gradually

But while you do all mentioned above, don’t make any sudden transition. That will mostly lead to the dog rejecting his food, or worse, could cause digestive complications like diarrhoea or vomiting, which can cause tremendous dehydration. Instead, offer new or changed food slowly. Mix the new food with the old half-and-half for the first few days. Increase the new food gradually while decreasing the old. Continue this over a week or 10 days until the dog’s food only includes his winter diet.

(Mitu Paul is Brand Head – Dibaq Pet Care India)