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Cold Weather Pet Care Tips

Cold Weather Pet Care Tips

As colder weather rolls in, us pet parents should begin to consider the changes to our furry friends’ needs with the drop in temperature. Specifically, this means reassessing and adapting our care routines.

Because ensuring our pets stay warm, well-fed, and active during winter weather isn’t just about comfort – it’s about maintaining their quality of life, as well as their stimulation and happiness. So really, it’s about their physical health and overall well-being.

That said, here are some key things for you to consider as the temperatures fall, from diet essentials and puppy training to indoor enrichment for cold weather!

Happy dog sitting wearing a scarf

Diet Essentials for Pets in Cold Weather

When the weather turns chilly, it’s important to adjust your pet’s diet to help them stay warm and maintain optimal health through the colder months.

Beyond just keeping them warm, a proper diet ensures your pets remain energetic and ready to enjoy even the chilliest days.

Here are some things to consider.

More protein and fat intake

During cold weather, our animal companions expend more energy to maintain their body heat, which means an increased calorie intake may be necessary. To help them keep up with this increased energy demand, it's a great idea to boost the protein and fat in their diet.

Not only does this provide them with the necessary energy, but let's be honest - most pets absolutely love the taste of these rich, savoury foods, so they’ll never say no to more tasty snacks!

For dogs and cats, consider adding more of the following to their meals:

  • Lean meats
  • Fish
  • Eggs

In addition to boosting protein levels, including fish in their diet provides essential omega-3 fatty acids that can improve your pet's coat health and reduce inflammation. Eggs are also beneficial in that they contain essential vitamins and minerals.

Keep them hydrated

Your pet can become dehydrated in winter just as easily as during the summer, especially in homes with central heating. To prevent dehydration, it’s quite important to ensure that fresh water is always accessible to your pet.

Another good way to ensure your pet is happy and hydrated is by placing multiple water bowls around your home, or even by adding a bit of water to their meals.

Cat snuggled up in warm bed

Incorporating more essential vitamins and minerals

Just like humans, pets can feel the chill in their bones during colder weather, which can worsen conditions like arthritis. To help keep your pet's joints healthy and enhance their overall well-being, it's important to include essential vitamins and minerals in their diet.

Vitamin E and Omega-3 fatty acids are especially beneficial for maintaining joint health and reducing inflammation. Supplements can be useful, but many necessary nutrients should come directly from a well-balanced diet.

And remember to always consult your vet before introducing any new supplements; especially if they’re already on a medication regime.

Indoor Enrichment for Pets During Cold Weather

As the cold keeps us indoors, it’s important to keep our pets entertained and engaged. Indoor enrichment can prevent behavioural issues and keep your pet’s mind sharp!

Here are some indoor activities to explore with your pet when cold weather rules out outdoor play.

Interactive Toys and Games

Interactive toys and puzzle feeders are excellent for keeping your animal companion mentally stimulated and physically active indoors. These toys not only entertain them but also challenge their problem-solving skills, which is essential for their cognitive development.

Here are some interactive toys and games for pets we recommend:

  • Hide-and-seek toys
  • Interactive laser toys
  • Electronic interactive toys
  • Squeaky toys with hidden treats
  • Interactive plush toys

In fact, you may want to take a look at our full range of dog toys and cat toys here.

Cat sitting amongst lots of toys

Regular Indoor Exercise

Just like us humans, our animal companions can be prone to a bit of weight gain during winter. This is mostly due to reduced activity levels and our animals also displaying hibernation-like behaviours. Whilst they don’t fully hibernate, our dogs and cats can still exhibit lower energy levels and act on the instinct to conserve energy during colder months, which in turn can then result in weight gain - especially if their food intake remains the same.

Maintaining a routine of regular indoor exercise is important to prevent weight gain and keep your pets healthy during the winter. Activities can range from indoor fetch sessions to cat agility exercises, depending on the space available and the type of pet.

Food Dispensing Toys

Food dispensing toys are a fantastic indoor enrichment idea for pets during cold weather, keeping them engaged while they solve puzzles to access their treats. Here are some examples that you may want to try with your own dog or cat:

  • Lick Mat
  • Treat Ball
  • Kong Classic Toy

Are you curious about the benefits of using a lick mat for your pet? It's a great tool for calming your pet and has some great health perks too. It can also help to improve your pet's oral health and reduce the risk of bloating, specifically because it encourages slow eating.

Toys like the treat ball and Kong Classic also encourage exercise, which is fantastic for keeping your pet active even when indoors.

Training and New Tricks

Being stuck inside isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it provides the perfect opportunity to teach your pet new tricks, which is not only fun but also beneficial for their mental health.

Engaging in regular training sessions helps sharpen their cognitive skills and strengthens the bond between you and your pet.

Whether you're reinforcing old commands or introducing new challenges, these activities can greatly enhance your pet's confidence and behaviour, making them well-adjusted and overall much happier.

And we’re not just talking to dog parents here. If you have a cat at home, you can consider teaching them some tricks too!

Dog learning to navigate obstacle course with witches hats

Hide and Seek

Playing hide and seek with your pet is not only fun but also a great way to provide mental stimulation indoors. By hiding treats or favourite toys around the house, you encourage your pet to use their sense of smell and problem-solving skills to find them. This activity likewise taps into their instincts and provides a rewarding experience once they’ve hunted down their prey.

Puppy Training Needs in Cold Weather

Raising a puppy can be a challenge at the best of times. But in winter weather, where there’s less chance to burn all that energy outdoors, it can become even more stressful. However this doesn’t need to be the case, if you focus on maintaining puppy training indoors.

Proper training ensures they learn essential behaviours - like potty training - regardless of the weather conditions. It also helps your young canine adapt to various environments, making them more resilient and confident as they grow.

Here are some aspects of puppy training in cold weather that you should consider.

Shorter, More Frequent Training Sessions

In the frosty air, shorter, more frequent puppy training sessions are the key! Puppies, known for their shorter attention spans when it's chilly, thrive with this approach, staying engaged and warm.

By breaking puppy training sessions into manageable chunks, you can effectively reinforce positive behaviours and instil new skills, ensuring your furry companion thrives even on the coldest of days.

Puppy standing on step

Indoor Potty Training

With colder weather making outside trips less appealing, it might be time to warm up to the idea of indoor potty training. If it is too cold to go outside, adapting your puppy’s potty-training routine is essential.

You can set up an indoor potty area using puppy pads or an indoor toilet training system. This not only keeps your puppy comfortable but also avoids setbacks in potty training during cold weather conditions.

Puppy Socialisation

Puppy socialisation shouldn’t go into hibernation just because it’s chilly outside! It is particularly important for puppies as it lays out the foundation for their future behaviour and ability to cope with various situations. It is especially necessary because a puppy's critical learning period lasts until about 12 to 16 weeks of age.

In colder weather, when outdoor activities may be limited, you can continue socialising your puppy indoors. You can do so by arranging playdates with other vaccinated puppies or small dogs in a safe indoor environment.

Participating in indoor puppy classes is also a great option. These activities expose your puppy to different people and dogs in a controlled setting, helping them develop confidence and learn appropriate behaviours.

This indoor socialisation ensures your puppy grows into a well-adjusted and sociable adult dog, even when the weather outside is less accommodating.

Outdoor Play and Protection

Outdoor training is still possible in cold weather, unless it's extremely harsh.

To keep your puppy comfy during cold-weather training, dress them in a doggy sweater or coat to help keep their body warm. Also, you could think about using booties or paw wax to protect their paws from the cold ground and ice.

Keep training sessions brief to avoid chilling your puppy, and keep a close eye on them for signs of discomfort like shivering or acting tired. If they seem unhappy, wrap up the session and warm them up indoors. These steps will help keep your puppy safe and cosy while training outside in the cold.

In Conclusion

As the cold weather sets in, us pet parents need to adapt our care routines to ensure our furry friends remain comfortable and healthy. From diet essentials and indoor enrichment to puppy training, there are many steps you can take to keep your pets happy during the colder weather.

Remember to increase protein and fat intake, ensure hydration, and provide essential vitamins and minerals in their diet.

If you’re unsure about what to feed your pet to meet the demands of the colder months, rest assured that at World 4 Pets we've got your pet's nutrition covered. With our wide range of high-quality pet foods, premium meats and bones, raw food add-ins, supplements, and specially crafted BARF blends, there’s something for everyone.

BARF range of food - 100% Aussie meat, organs, fruit and veggies

All our products are designed to provide your furry friend with the nourishment they need for a healthy, happy life. So make sure to give our Meat and Bones collection a browse whilst you’re here.

Keep warm and safe, pet parents!

Next article Wet Weather Enrichment Ideas for Pets