Vet Column

Seasonal Pet Care Insights: Boosting Cats and Dogs Immunity for Autumn and Winter Health

This article was written by Dr. Shang-Hsiu Chung, a veterinarian at Always Care Veterinary Hospital
Due to the impact of global warming, the transition from summer to autumn in Taiwan is no longer marked solely by occasional breezes. Instead, a noticeable temperature drop occurs after the Mid-Autumn Festival. Early autumn becomes a crucial period for pet owners to pay attention to boosting the dogs' and cats' immune systems.  The great temperature variation between day and night can have a particular impact on their respiratory and urinary systems. This article explores the common symptoms that cats and dogs may experience due to seasonal changes. It provides insights from a veterinarian's perspective, with the goal of assisting pet owners in enhancing their pets' immunity as they navigate the shift from autumn to winter, ensuring the well-being of their furry companions.
Seasonal Pet Care Insights: Boosting Cats and Dogs Immunity for Autumn and Winter Health

Common Seasonal Illnesses in Dogs

Seasonal temperature shifts can increase the risk of diseases in dogs, such as:
  1. Gastrointestinal Upset: Temperature changes can irritate a dog's digestive system, causing an imbalance in the intestinal flora, leading to an increase in harmful bacteria, a decrease in beneficial bacteria, and resulting in symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea.
  2. Skin Allergies: Taiwan's humid and erratic weather can make dogs prone to skin allergies, leading to symptoms like persistent itching, excessive fur licking, and rubbing against surfaces.
  3. Cardiovascular Issues: Seasonal changes, with cold weather causing blood vessel constriction and hot weather leading to dilation, can trigger cardiovascular problems in dogs.
  4. Canine Respiratory Disease: Temperature drops increase the risk of dogs inhaling cold drafts, which can lead to tracheal constriction. Symptoms may include coughing, wheezing, and reverse sneezing. Small breeds, like Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas, are particularly vulnerable to small dog breathing issues such as tracheal collapse. If a dog's cough sounds unusual, owners should remain attentive.

Seasonal Shifts Trigger Stress in Cats and Pose Health Risks

As seasons shift, cats also exhibit clinical symptoms:
  1. Excessive Grooming in Cats: Stress from climate changes can lead to cats' constant grooming, where they lick their fur excessively, leading to skin inflammation, sores, or hair loss. This behavior indicates more than just a grooming habit.
  2. Feline Idiopathic Cystitis: Alongside pathological feline lower urinary tract symptoms, there's a clinical condition known as 'Feline Idiopathic Cystitis' induced by emotional anxiety in cats. This emotional stress can sensitize pain nerves in the cat's bladder, resulting in damage and inflammation of the bladder mucosal epithelium. In severe cases, cystitis in cats causes symptoms like hematuria, painful urination, difficulty urinating, abnormal urination, and frequent licking of the external urinary tract.
  3. Respiratory Problems: Increased humidity during autumn and winter can intensify allergens, potentially causing cats to sneeze or cough. In severe cases, it may lead to asthma.
  4. Herpes Virus Infection: About 80% of cats in Taiwan carry the herpes virus. Reduced immunity or increased stress can trigger this virus, and seasonal transitions are a prime period for outbreaks.
  5. Heart Problems: Cats naturally prefer warmer environments, and sudden temperature drops require them to adapt. These weather changes can also cause blood vessel constriction, potentially leading to heart issues.

Seasonal Care for Pets: Preventative Measures, Care Guidelines, and Nutritional Supplements

To safeguard our furry kids from season shift threats, these actions can be taken
  1. Early Prevention: Regular vet check-ups and vaccinations against common viral infections are crucial.
  2. Emotional Well-being: Prioritizing your pets' emotional health is essential to prevent them from being negatively affected by seasonal changes.
  3. Nutritional Supplements: Including dietary supplements in their daily diet is vital for their overall health.  
    • Nourishing and strengthening the body: Japanese patented Lactobacillus crispatus, β-glucan, and echinacea extract.
    • Enhance physical condition: Yeast fermentation, fucoidan, and taurine
    • Maintain physiological functions: Astaxanthin and vitamins
Seasonal Pet Care Strategies
Prioritizing your pet's health during seasonal transitions is essential for pet owners. If your pet shows any symptoms, prompt consultation with a veterinarian is recommended. Together, we can protect our pets' well-being throughout autumn and winter.

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