Despite the recent sunshine and warm weather, technically, it's winter in Australia right now, and we've got a few more months of cold weather left ahead of us.
And while we're pulling on coats and adding extra layers to our bedding, we need to be just as mindful of looking after our pets as we are our chilly homes. A cold dog is not a happy dog, especially the short-haired breeds.
Australia has one of the highest domestic animal ownership rates in the world – around eight million of us have a furry, feathered or scaly friend at home.
Invest in a coat
Several dog breeds are blessed with thick fur that naturally keeps then warm outside during winter, however, smaller breeds or those with thin coats may need to cover up when outdoors. A high-quality coat or jumper for your dog should provide excellent coverage from the neck to the tail, yet not inhibit mobility.
Assess your dog’s bedding
If your dog sleeps on cold tiles, concrete or uncarpeted floors, review your bedding options to ensure they remain warm at night during winter. Provide raised beds for insulation, extra blankets they can snuggle and ensure that that their bed is away from cold drafts – especially for newborn and elderly dogs.
Modify indoor and outdoor time
If your dog feels the cold, adjust their time spent outdoors, where possible, to daytime when the sun is out and the temperature a little warmer rather than early morning or late evening. A handy hint is to go out with them and when you're ready to come in, they will be too.
Do not leave pets outdoors for long periods without adequate insulated shelter during winter to avoid the risk of Hypothermia.
Dogs will often seek heat during winter and rest close to heating sources. Make sure that open fireplaces and space heaters have protective covers so you can avoid overheating and potential burns. Regularly service gas heaters and appliances in the home to minimise the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Maintain consistent food portions
Be sure to monitor your dog's food intake, energy levels and keep a close eye on their weight during the colder months. Some dogs may be less active during winter, sleeping indoors, so they may require less calories to avoid weight gain. Alternatively, dogs who spend a lot of time outdoors during winter may need an increase in food due to high energy use to keep warm. Quality foods, such as a super-premium food diet, will help ensure a healthy coat and good energy during the season.
Continue a grooming regime
Your dog needs a clean, well-maintained coat to keep properly insulated, especially if they spend time outdoors. After bathing, dry your dog thoroughly, inspect that their skin is in good condition, and give their fur a good brush to prevent matting.
Check the safety of your indoor plants
While indoor plants are in-vogue and help enhance air quality, they can be lethal for your dog if ingested. Common varieties, such as Yucca, Aloe Vera, Devil's Ivy or Corn Plant are no-go's and can cause drooling, vomiting, weakness or even acute kidney failure if eaten. Before investing in plants, visit the RSPCA's website for their list of poisonous plants. Review our fact sheet on poisonous plants should you suspect your dog has ingested a harmful plant and the care you need to provide.