Pet Care Tips for Keeping Your Pet Warm and Safe This Winter
So, Christmas may be over, but for many of us, the colder weather is set to remain for at least a few more months. Unfortunately, not all pets are able to adapt to the changing seasons as well as we can. This means that any responsible pet owner may need to make special consideration for the provision of care for their animals during the winter months. This is particularly important if you have an outdoor pet. Here are our top tips for keeping your pet warm and safe this winter.
Any animal that spends a lot of time outdoors must have access to an adequate shelter. By adequate, we mean that your pets’ shelter should:
Provide complete protection against wind, rain, snow and ice. No leaks!
Have a cosy inner room. It will be easier to make this smaller section warmer, and will make your pet feel safe and secure.
Have an entrance that helps to protect them from the elements. Ideally your pet shelter should have a heavy door flap. If this isn’t possible then you should try and position it so that the entrance faces to the east or south.
Be in a sunny spot in your yard as this will make it warmer. Try and ensure that it isn’t too exposed to the elements.
Be sufficiently insulated, and raised above ground level to prevent any possible snow from drifting inside. If possible, enclose the area under your pets’ shelter to prevent cold winds from blowing underneath.
Have adequate bedding. Straw or cedar chips are great for retaining heat. Do not be tempted to use hay, or man-made bedding such as towels or blankets and they will draw moisture and quickly mold.
Ensure that you continue to offer fresh water daily, and that it is not frozen over. If you have a pet that has a water bottle with ball mechanism, check it regularly as the ball can freeze easily, and could leave your pet dangerously dehydrated.
Although animals may appear to slow down during the winter months, they normally require a bit more food than usual. This extra food will help them to generate more body heat, keeping them warm. Just make sure you keep an eye on their consumptions as too much food can cause your pet to put on weight.
It can be tempting to offer your pets some of the delicious human food you are eating. However, giving a pet even a bite of your food could lead to them developing an upset stomach, so try and refrain from giving your pet anything that isn’t tried and tested.
You should also look out for hidden food dangers over the winter. Certain plants and flowers are prevalent in winter, and while lilies and poinsettias look pretty, they are actually poisonous to any feline friends.
Outside considerations for canine pet care
If you have a dog, then you will inevitably have to go outside. There are some things that you can do to help make your canine companion as comfortable as possible when you go out for walks.
Keep walks short and sweet. Walk far enough so that your dog gets some exercise, but not so far that he is outside for a prolonged period.
Don’t leave your dog unattended. Most dogs aren’t used to extreme cold and can quickly develop frostbite and/or hyperthermia.
Invest in some warmer clothes. That’s right, there are doggy jumpers, coats and boots for many different breeds. It is particularly important to invest in some doggy booties if there is extreme cold as your dogs’ paws will be in almost constant contact with the freezing ground. Keep a close eye on your dog when wearing them as if they get wet they will need to be removed quickly.
Wash down the paws and legs of your furry friend after every walk. This will help to remove any traces of salt, grit or even antifreeze that he may have picked up. This will reduce the likelihood of your pet having a reaction or becoming poisoned.
Keep your dog away from frozen rivers or lakes. There is no way of knowing how thick the ice is and there is always a risk that it could break.
Outside pet care considerations for feline friends
Although the majority of cats prefer to stay indoors when it is cold, if you have a particularly adventurous feline friend you should really force her to stay in when the temperatures are really low, regardless of how impatient she seems. If your cat usually does her bathroom business outside then you will also need to prepare a little tray for her somewhere in your home.
The dangers of becoming trapped
Cats who go outside in winter often make themselves comfortable inside warm car engines. While this may keep them toasty for a little while, it also puts them in danger. Cats are also known for getting trapped in barns, garages and outbuildings. A short entrapment during the warmer months may not pose a problem, but in winter a trapped feline can quickly develop frostbite or hypothermia.