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Brenda Tobin-Flood

When it is really cold outside, I often think about pets, especially the elderly, and what can be done to make them more comfortable during the cold season.  You may notice that your elderly pooch is getting up slower during the colder months, or that they get just enough exercise by going outside to do their business and back in the house they go.  A lot of older pets with arthritis experience even more stiffness during the cold.


Hippocrates is quoted as saying, “Let thy food be thy medicine.”  Modern medicine and pharmaceuticals have overshadowed the role of nutrients in regenerating damaged tissue, increasing metabolic function, boosting the immune  system and reducing inflammation, as well as aiding in the overall healing process.  What are nutrients?  Water, Fat, Minerals, Vitamins, Protein, and Carbohydrates.

Make sure your pet has plenty of clean drinking water.  Keeping your pet hydrated is extremely important during the winter months.  Cats enjoy fresh and cooler temperature water, so try to keep those water dishes changed throughout the day.  Your older dog may want room temperature water.  If you find your dog or cat is not drinking enough you can add a little low sodium broth to their water.  Horses need to have plenty of fresh water provided all throughout the day.  If you do not have access to a heated water bucket then you can fill half their water bucket with hot water and the other half with hose water.  Providing a salt or mineral block for your horse, especially during the winter months, will encourage them to drink more.

Increasing the fat intake in your pet’s diet is a good idea when cold strikes.  Drizzle some rendered chicken fat into your cat or dog’s food, or consider supplementing with an Essential Fatty Acid if you do not already do so.  Supplementing their diet with coconut oil and also Turmeric helps with inflammation.  One of my horses “stock’s up” in his rear legs - swelling which occurs from lack of movement especially in the winter months.  A heaping tbsp of coconut oil added to his Equine Chia Seeds is really beneficial to him.

Vitamin E, C and also minerals (essential and trace) will also help with inflammation.  Minerals are beneficial for flaky skin and can enhance the appetite and physical activity of older animals.  B-Complex vitamins have been shown to reduce stress and are essential for energy production and a healthy immune system for your dog or cat.  Biotin (part of the B complex family) has been shown to be beneficial  to horses with poor hoof conditions, such as dry brittle hoof walls resulting in cracking and splits.

Exercise may lack in the winter months.  This can increase stiffness and inflammation.  If you can get your dog outside for a brisk walk at least once per day that would be helpful.  There are so many styles of warm jackets that you can purchase to keep them nice and toasty for their winter walk.  For your cat, I would encourage playing with a stick wand and tempting your cat to pounce and run.  Exercise is not only good for the body, but also the mind.  Being cooped up on the winter months can wreak havoc with all age groups of animals.  Supplementing with amino acids can be helpful for the animal to maintain muscle mass.

One supplement that I highly recommend for dogs and cats is NuVet Plus.  Their website is Their supplement includes water-soluble, human grade ingredients.  They also carry a supplement containing glucosamine/chondroitin which is great for an older pet that has joint problems and/or arthritis.

For horses I would recommend visiting or for supplements.

Supplementing your animals diet with the appropriate nutrients, warmth and exercise can help your pet, both young and old, through the cold winter months. Frankie Marie in coat

-Brenda M. Tobin-Flood,Cert. C.N. lives in SC with her husband and son, as well as their horses, Great Danes and chickens.  Email questions/comments to Visit our online store at


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