CASEY’S dog owners are being urged to rug up their pets and bring them inside as Victoria bears the brunt of wild, winter weather.
RSPCA chief veterinarian Dr Andrew Byrne said thunderstorms were one of the most prevalent phobias in animals. “Strong winds and thunderstorms can easily damage fences and blow gates open, and a fearful pet may run away,” Dr Byrne said. “For your pet’s safety, make sure that any fences and gates are secure and that your pet can’t readily escape through them or over them.”
Dr Byrne said bringing pets indoors was the best solution, but not always practical for owners. “Whether indoors or outdoors, be sure to provide your pet with a safe and comfortable area where they can shelter, and allow your pet to go where it wants to feel safe,” he said. Dr Byrne said some dogs were particularly susceptible to cold weather, especially at night. “If it’s not an option to bring Rover indoors, it is crucial to provide adequate shelter outside,” Dr Byrne said.
“The shelter must keep the animal warm and dry. Use lots of blankets, towels or straw as bedding and make sure the bed is elevated off the cold floor.” Dr Byrne said winter coats were a great way to keep animals warm. Dr Byrne said owners needed to find the motivation to continue to take their dogs for walks throughout winter. “Exercise is crucial in keeping a dog happy and healthy and can also help maintain joint mobility,” he said.
Keeping dogs entertained in winter called for creativity, but paid off in avoiding unwanted behaviours. “Try reward-based trick training to stimulate him. Toys and games also help and if you have friends with dogs that get along with yours, why not organise a doggie play date,” he said.
*Keep them safe:
> Make sure that any fences and gates are secure and that your pet can’t readily escape through them or over them
> If possible, bring your pet inside when thunderstorms are expected
> If you know that your pet is extremely fearful of thunderstorms, speak to your vet about stress management strategies
> Ensure your pet is microchipped.