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Its beginning to look a lot like…

No, we’re not quite there yet!

It’s beginning to look a lot like… much colder weather!

The temperature is dropping and mild autumn days are becoming few and far between.

But why am I discussing this you ask? Because it may affect your horse or dog!

While our loyal furry friends are prepared with a warm fur coat, they can still be vulnerable to the cold weather- they often tend to need some extra care, help and attention to prevent the effects of cold. So this blog post is intended to give you a few helpful hints and tips for your animals to thrive in the winter months.

One of our girls on the farm on a colder Autumn day. (Yes, I treat cattle too!)

Firstly, the colder weather means that muscles take longer to warm up and arthritic joints in the older dog or horse may ache and need extra time to loosen up. A rug or coat for both your horse or dog may be an option to help keep the heat in. During the night time, you may also want to consider some more blankets or towels for your dog to keep warm.

Exercise should not stop in the colder months. Confinement during this time can lead to hyper activity and problem behaviours in dogs and lower leg swelling in horses. So continue to walk your dog and turnout or exercise your horse as often as possible.

Moreover, with horses, if they tend to sweat lots when ridden, you should consider a body clip to help them cool quicker. Otherwise the sweat gets very cold for the horse if it is not dried off. Leaving a hot, wet horse standing in a cold barn can lead to illness. Similarly, after a walk or run in wet conditions, your dog’s coat is likely to be wet and damp- a good towel dry will help to warm them up.

Secretary Sally is always dried off with a towel after wetter walks.... and she may or may not be getting a warm coat from Santa Paws for Christmas!

Moreover, when exercising in cold weather, more energy is used when compared to the warmer months. Glycogen (energy) stores are said to be used up to five times faster in cold weather. Once these stores have gone, the body begins to convert fat to energy which is far less efficient. Therefore, it is necessary to make sure your pet is receiving the correct amount of food and calories.

Dehydration is also an important factor to look out for, especially with equine athletes working throughout the cold weather. Dehydration causes reduced blood volume, making it

more difficult for the heart to pump blood. This is an undesirable effect if the horse is already working hard enough! Be sure that water is not frozen over and consider warming the water as many horses prefer this to encourage your horse to drink more.

Another often missed factor is slippery ground due to ice or snow. Slippery conditions can cause a range of musculoskeletal problems in both horses and dogs such as pulled muscles and ligament and tendon tears and strains. Too be extra careful when out on your walks, hacks or rides.

Hopefully this has given you an insight into some of the problems our faithful fur friends may encounter during the colder months and ways to help avoid them.

If you would like to find out more or have any queries on today’s blog, don’t hesitate to contact me by emailing me at .

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