We all know how the change of seasons can affect us, as humans. Changing from summer shorts and tanks to long pants and sweaters is just part of the picture as we move into autumn. As the days become shorter and the temperatures become cooler, our bodies respond and change accordingly. The same holds true for our pets. Westport pet owners should be aware of these seasonal temperature changes and respond to help their pets adjust in a healthy and positive way. Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth can provide you with lots of great seasonal tips, advice and solutions, from winter care for reptiles to autumn feeding tips for cats, your trusted veterinarian in South Coast can help make the seasonal transition go smoothly for everyone involved.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
You might have heard about this psychological phenomenon occurring in people, particularly in the northeastern region where we have long, freezing cold winters and a clear lack of sunshine for weeks on end. However, veterinarians have concluded that our pets can suffer from depression during this time of year as well. When they spend less time outdoors and are deprived of sunshine for more days n a row, dogs can also be affected by the seasonal changes that happen during this time of year. Symptoms of depression in pets can include behavioral changes, including accidents in the house or aggression, as well as being more “needy” of attention, seeming more lethargic or even having extreme hair loss.
Metabolism & Appetite
Another common issue with pets during the fall and winter seasons is a loss of appetite. The changes that occur with the shorter days and colder temperatures can trigger noticeable changes in hormones for all mammals, having a major influence on food intake and body metabolism. Food seeking behavior becomes increased by instinct to store fat on the body and prepare for the lean food season of winter. As a result, your dog or cat may be more hungry during the fall and winter months, consuming more food than they do in the spring and summer.
This is a hormonal response, so it is important to understand what is causing this drive to eat more food. Lower temperatures require greater energy to maintain the proper body temperature, so you should not deny them the extra food that they require. Dogs go outdoors for “potty” purposes year-round and, in some cases, may even be going out for regular walks regardless of the temperature. Indoor cats can even be affected, despite your best efforts to maintain thermal control inside the home.
Thicker Fur & Dry Skin
In the fall, pets start growing their “winter coats” to help keep them warm when the temperature drops. The cold and dry weather, as well as indoor heaters, fireplaces and other factors, all work together to cause dry skin and, in some cases, dandruff for pets. Westport pet owners should bring their pets in to visit the veterinarian at Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth if they have any concerns about extreme dry skin. Adding olive oil to your dog’s food can help them to have healthy fur and skin, but it is best to seek the opinion of your veterinarian in South Coast before you include any additives in their food. This is true for all pets, as winter care for reptiles and pocket pets will also be greatly different from care in the warmer months.
If you do take your dog or cat outdoors for a walk in the winter months, it is important to provide them with the proper care required to keep them safe. It isn’t just snow and ice that can be dangerous, especially to your pet’s paws, but also the chemical burns and salt that are used to remove ice from sidewalks, streets and driveways. You can help to combat this by applying an even and thin layer of balm to your pet’s paws before you take them outdoors for a walk. Once you return from the walk, you can wash down their paws with a warm, wet washcloth. This will help to make sure that any residual snow and ice melt off their paws. At this time, you can apply another thin and even layer of balm to help keep their paws properly moisturized and healthy.
Some Westport pet owners swear by dog booties or shoes to help keep their pets safe from frostbite, dryness, cracking and other trauma. You will want to get your dog used to wearing them at home before you try to go out for a walk, as it can mean quite an adjustment for most pets.
Stiffness & Inflammation
Just as people suffer more from arthritis and joint issues during the cold months, so do our pets. Some veterinarians in South Coast believe that some of this has to do with a lack of exercise, as walks are often reduced this time of year due to weather, but it also has to do with the temperature and the way it affects joints and bones. Dogs and cats are good at hiding pain, so it is important to know what to look for to identify whether your pet needs a trip to visit Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth. Symptoms to look for can include stiffness, depression, grumpiness and a reluctance to jump or run.
Bring Your Pet in for a Seasonal Check-Up
If you think your pet may be suffering from any of these seasonal ailments, bring them in to Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth for a seasonal check-up. Westport pet owners need to be aware of the potential risks associated with cold weather, snow and ice and the way that it can affect winter care for reptiles, pocket pets and more common pets like cats and dogs. Give us a call at 508-996-3731 to schedule an appointment or to learn more about our services.