Winter Pet Care Essentials

Last Updated 20 MAY 2020

This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Carla Paszkowski BVSc (Hons)

The cool, crisp months of winter have arrived. It's perfect weather for curling up and snuggling by the heater with your furry friend. However, while winter does bring its cosy perks, it's important to remember that winter can also bring certain issues for your pet such as increased joint pain, new parasites, and itchy skin issues in long fur.

Fortunately, there are plenty of changes we can make at home to give our pets some relief from winter time ailments. With arthritis products, grooming tips, as well as warm coats, blankets and cosy beds to keep them snug, your pet can stay comfortable and warm all winter long!

Skip to a section:

1. Winter Joint Care

2. Winter Jumpers

3. Winter Beds

4. Winter Fitness

5. Winter Grooming

Winter Joint Care

For older pets in particular, arthritis and other joint pain issues can flare up during the colder months. Scientifically referred to as osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease, arthritis is a degenerative, progressive, and irreversible condition of the joints. Although it can be painful, arthritis is manageable with a variety of at-home techniques and products, including:

1. Weight Control: Weight control is the single most important strategy in the management of arthritis in pets. As well as adding extra load to sore joints, fat also releases inflammatory mediators which contribute to inflammation in many part's of your pet's body, including the joints.

2. Joint Supplements: Arthritis supplements in pets most commonly contain Omega fatty acids or Glucosamine and Chondroitin. The omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA have been demonstrated to have anti inflammatory properties, and can be obtained from lots of difference sources including fish oil, flaxseed, and green lipped mussel powder. Our top joint supplements are 4cyte or Glyde for dogs, and PAW Blackmores Osteosupport for cats.

3. Therapeutic diets: If your pet has arthritis, your vet may recommend a therapeutic mobility diet which has been scientifically formulated and proven to help improve mobility. These diets contain a number of beneficial nutrients which are known to help reduce inflammation and support joint health at therapeutic levels, while also delivering high quality, easy to digest nutrition to keep your pet in optimal health and body condition.

4. Physical therapy and low-impact exercise: tying in with weight management, your pet will need to stay active, but only in a way which won't hurt their joints. Most pets are comfortable with light to moderate exercise regimes. However, every animal is different, so it's important to talk to your veterinarian about what's best for your pet. Swimming or walking in water is an excellent option for dogs, with minimal pressure placed on the joints and it is a gentle way to strengthen and rebuild muscles to prevent further injury.

5. Orthopaedic beds: A supportive bed is vital for arthritic pets. Avoid beds with a large lip as this can be hard to step over and ideally find a sturdy bed with memory foam such as the Snooza Magnomat. A solid structure will provide better support whereas soft, fluffy beds can make getting up a more difficult task.

For more tips on joint care, view our articles Joint Care for Dogs and Joint Care for Cats.

Top Winter Joint Care Products:

PAW Blackmores Osteosupport

Available for cats and dogs, PAW Osteosupport capsules contain highly concentrated green lipped mussel powder.

Hills Prescription Diet j/d

With a blend of EPA, glucosamine and chondroitin, these vet diets are proven to reduce the symptoms of arthritis.

Orthopaedic Beds

Orthopaedic mattresses contain supportive foam, a non-slip base, and are firm enough to provide support but soft enough to provide comfort.

Mobility Ramps

Perfect for helping your dog get into or out of the car, or up and off furniture, ramps can help reduce impact on the joints.

Jumpers, and Jammies, and Coats, Oh MY!

Mr Darcy wears the Huskimo Thredbo Jumper in Cherry

It's time to pull out the winter woollies! Perhaps one of the easiest ways to keep your pet warm when the temperatures drop is by wrapping them up in a cosy jumper, coat or raincoat to help with body temperature regulation. Jumpers are great for short-coated dog breeds as well as puppies and elderly dogs, who are most likely to feel the cold.

From woollen turtlenecks to outdoor moleskins to costumes, there is just about every type of pet coat imaginable nowadays. For super sleek, premium woollen knits, we love the range from Huskimo. For a range of flamboyantly colourful prints and hilariously 'mini human' styles such as hipster vintage and denim jackets, check out Fuzzyard. And for a premium range of hardy outdoor coats including oilskins, take a gander at the range from Kazoo.

Read more about our entire range of fabulous pet coats in our article 6 Must-Haves for Your Dog's Winter Wardrobe.

Top Winter Clothes for Pets:

Warm and Cosy Beds

Who doesn't love curling up in a cushy bed when it's cold out? Blankets and plush beds are a wonderful idea for all - dogs, cats and even small animals - but you could also consider an elevated or bolster bed or even a cosy igloo (these are particularly great for cats!).

Never underestimate how much your pet can feel the cold. Outdoor pets and working dogs may seem tough, but they can truly feel the chill (just like us!). If you can't keep your pet indoors at night, always provide a kennel and consider a heated mat for keeping the inside warm.

Read more about pet beds in our article What Type of Bed Does Your Pet Need?.

Top Snuggly Beds for Pets:

Winter Fitness: Stay Active

While many of us are driven to exercise throughout winter to achieve a "summer body", it's important to exercise your pet too. Rather than hiding under blankets all day, warm up with a walk or run in the park - and get some much-appreciated Vitamin D in the process, too!

For cats, (or on days that you really can't bear taking your dog outside in the cold!) an indoor daily playtime session is essential. Keep a range of fun toys on hand and alternate between fetch, teasers, and chase toys to keep things fun and fresh.

If the shorter days with fewer daylight hours are putting you off, why not check out some glow-in-the-dark toys, or an LED light-up collar, lead, or dog tag? These luminescent products will keep your pet glowing and visible, no matter how dark the conditions.

Read more about our entire range of glowing fitness products in our article 5 Must-Have Night Walk Products.

Top Winter Fitness Products for dogs:

Top Winter Fitness Products for cats:

Winter Grooming Tips

Many pet owners choose to let their pet's fur grow longer for extra insulation in winter. A long coat is no problem, provided that it is well-maintained and groomed. Long fur can become matted if brushing isn't maintained, which can lead to skin irritations and discomfort. A dusty home environment (often seen when the windows are kept closed and warm fleecy blankes are retrieved from the cupboard), can encourage parasite growth and allergies, further compounding skin issues.

To help avoid winter skin irritations, there are a number of easy things you can do at home.

1. Parasite Prevention. Even though ticks aren't about, pesky mites pose a particular risk at this time of year. Ensure that flea and tick prevention is maintained, and be particularly sure to use a product which protects against mites such as Bravecto, Revolution, or Advocate.

2. Regular Coat Brushing. Keep your pet's coat well-groomed and brushed daily. If your pet has a thick fur or sheds excessively, you might like to try a de-shedding brush such as the Furminator.

3. Moisturise. When it comes to shampoo and conditioners, go for ultra-moisturising varieties to prevent your pet's skin from drying out in a heated home environment. Oatmeal conditioners such as Aloveen are incredibly soothing, and are a must-have if your pet suffers from dry skin.

For more information on skin support, view our article How to Stop My Dog Scratching or The Causes of Itching in Cats. For more info on the best pet brushes, see our article Which Dog Brush Do You Need?

Top Winter Skin and Grooming Products:

Further Reading

Check out our other articles:

Premium Pet Food: Is It Worth It?

Raw Diets for Pets: The Risks and Benefits

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Dangerous Food For Dogs

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