The lack of daylight hours in winter causes a downturn in many people’s moods.  According to a survey by the PDSA (a leading veterinary charity) a similar effect is seen in our pets.  What better way is there to beat the winter blues for all of us, therefore, than by spending time with our pets.

Our top tips to help you and your animals have a wonderful winter are:

 

Get outside. 

The depression we see in our dogs may just be because we aren’t taking them out as often.  It is great for all of us to get out and exercise.  As daylight hours are limited, find places to safely walk your dog at night.  Many people drive to the forest in summer but don’t consider travelling into town to walk their dog through the town centre at night.  Glow in the dark collars, leads and tags add safety if you are walking in the dark.

Take advantage of the sunshine.

When it is sunny make sure you go out into it.  Sunshine coming through the window may make us feel happier, but only sunshine on our skin produces vitamin D.

When the weather is dreadful, play with your pets inside.  Hide and seeking food or retrieving (soft) toys for dogs and chasing objects on string (for example fishing toys) for cats are some suggestions.
.

Change the amount your pets eat if necessary.

In general a consistent diet is best for your pet, however, over winter you may need to consider alterations.  If your pet is less active you need to reduce portions.  If, however, your pet is exercising a lot during winter they may require more calories.  Have your pet regularly weighed at the vets and ask the nurses for free advice.

Stroke your pet.

Research has proven that the act of patting an animal makes us feel better.  Your pet will also benefit due to the increased attention he or she receives.

Talk to your pet. 

They will be glad to hear your voice, no matter what you are saying.  Many animals will pick up on your mood, so if you are feeling sad your animal friend will probably try to cheer you up with a tail wag or a purr.

Reward your pet. 

It is easy to get grumpy during the darker days.  To counteract this do some obedience training with your pet.  Teach them new commands and reward them when they comply to your requests.  This will make you proud and them more confident.  Did you know that some cats can be easy to train?  Try the challenge of teaching your cat to ‘sit’ and give ‘high five’.  Our feline companions are very good at training us humans so put the shoe on the other paw!

Go visiting.

Take your dog to a friend’s house, training classes or your nearest dog friendly pub.  You will both benefit from socialising during the darker months.

Go to the seaside.

We are lucky to be close to both the Norfolk and Suffolk coast.  These areas are very pet friendly.  In fact you can walk your dog on more beaches in winter than summer.  The gentle lapping of the sea or dramatic crashing of waves will lift your mood no matter what the weather brings.

The staff at Eastgate Vets wish you and your pets a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year.  Make us smile by posting your Christmas pics on www.facebook.com/eastgatevets