Snuggling with your pets this winter 2



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I know that winter has arrived when Chilli dog sneaks onto my bed at night and at least one of my cats has climbed under the covers. And my pets may even allow me an extra half hour in bed in the morning. A very welcome half hour when it’s cold outside!

Like most pets, mine will find a spot of winter sunshine that is beaming in through the windows and snooze the day away. Chilli dog, however, is always keen for a walk and this helps her stay warm and prevents piling on the calories, from the extra little treats I give her while I’m having my hot chocolates!

Do pets change their behaviour in winter?

Some pets may not appear to notice winter at all, especially if they come well equipped with fur coats and an abundance of energy. But most of our animal companions will alter their behaviour a little to cope with the change in season. Most of these behaviour changes will be to do with obtaining warmth and comfort.

Major changes in behaviour, or unusual behaviours, however, may indicate more than a seasonal cause and may indicate health issues. Being reluctant to move, for instance, could indicate arthritis or other joint problems in your pet. Shivers and sniffles could indicate viral infections. Best to see your vet, if you are at all concerned.

Enduring winter together

Let’s make the most of winter, together with our pets. After all, you are more likely to get cuddles from your pet during winter than any other season.

Here are a few ways that you can actually enjoy this coldest of seasons:

  • Get exercising. It is difficult to get out into the cold but a brisk dog walk will help you warm up. Running up and down the hallway with your cat will also bring some warmth and fun to your home.
  • Yes, you can dress your dog in a coat or a winter jumper. Take it off when they are exercising or when indoors, before they overheat. I’ve even seen matching owner and dog outfits but that may a little extreme in the fashion stakes for most of us!
  • Yes, it is ok to sleep with your pet in your bed, as long as it’s what you want. If you are both healthy and well-behaved, then this really is not an issue.
  • Cat owners – look for your cat and curl up next to them. In winter, cats always find the warmest spot in the home!

And look out for:

  • Your pet’s water supply freezing in the cold weather, especially if you live in a colder climate.
  • Open fires, or heaters that can be knocked over.
  • Drafts and cold or damp weather. Give your pet a warm bed out of any drafts. A covered hot water bottle or a blanket may help some pets stay warm but always give them the choice of sleeping positions.
  • While you may enjoy more comfort food in winter (hot chocolate, anyone?), try not to indulge your pet too much. A very active pet can deal with a few more calories but, just like us, couch potato pets will gain weight.

Stay warm and snuggle up with your pets!


Dr Jo Righetti

Passionate animal behaviourist and Purina Petcare ambassador, Dr Jo has worked with pets for more than a decade and has been a media favourite, with appearances on Totally Wild, Creature Features, Body & Soul Magazine and The Project. With a PhD in Animal Behaviour, a Degree in Zoology and a Diploma in Counselling under her belt, Dr Jo provides support to individual pet owners, governments and commercial companies on how to best nurture relationships between animal and human.

  1. I have an old dog which i love with all my heart but the thought of having an animal in my bed or on my furniture makes me sick.I have seen what animals do with their tongues and mouths not to mention all the hair loss.My dog has a lovely warm bed on the floor,another one on the porch and 2 cut down armchairs ,one on the front deck and one on the back deck.This is where she rests and is used to that.She never tries to get onto any furniture.She is almost 12 and a very happy dog.

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