Brr! The weather is cooling down out there and it won’t be long before you need to pull on your winter woollies, cook some soup and cuddle up next to the heater. But what about your furry friends, how can you keep them warm and safe this winter?
The most important part about your pet’s bedding in winter, is to make sure that it is dry. Make sure that their bed hasn’t come in contact with rain or snow and isn’t damp in anyway. Secondly, you need to make sure that their bed is warm, perhaps warmer than usual. You can bump up the heat by adding an extra blanket. If your pet is partial to being cold, you might want to make sure they are warm by adding a heating pad or a hot water bottle to their bed. Just make sure that your pet doesn’t burn their skin on an exposed heating pad or bottle, by wrapping the heating pad up in suitable protection. During cold weather it is important to make sure that your pet’s bedding is out of the way of drafts and doorways. Because their beds are lower and out of the way, it is not usual for people to notice the draft across the pet’s space. Get down on a cold evening and make sure the air is warm and not open to a gasp of cold air.
Indoor Vs. Outdoor
If your cat or dog is normally an inside animal don’t try to change that in winter. Your pet will need to acclimatise to the weather conditions, and if they have not been outside as much as all, the cold weather can be quite a shock. If there is snow or ice, your dogs and cats would be better off inside. Even if you don’t normally allow them inside, it can be quite dangerous for animals in sub-zero temperatures, particularly if they are not breed for this climate. If your dog is breed for colder climates and it must stay outside, make sure their bed is warm, dry and is under suitable shelter. If you have a dog or cat with short, little or no hair and you would like them to spend some time outside in the cold weather (e.g. for exercise) you should get them some specialised clothing. Remember that not all pets like or will tolerate jackets or coats, so make sure you test it out a few times before leaving them alone in it for a long time.
Your pet probably loves going outside and exploring the local park or walking track. During the colder months you might want to consider lessening the walks that you take together, or try to visit the park during the warmest time of the day. When you do take walks, you may want to consider putting your pet in a coat and/or shoes. If your dog will wear (as in – not chew off) a pair of walking boots, you might want to try taking your daily walks with a pair of these; because their little tootsies won’t be touching the ground, they will be significantly warmer.
For pampered pooches you might want to consider a visit to the doggy day care center. This will help provide a social outlet for your pet. Doggy day care can be expensive and indoor parks are far and few between, however finding an option like this can mean that your dog can still get the exercise and companionship they crave during winter.
Make sure you speak to your veterinarian about what kind of diet your pet should be on in winter. Some pets will need some extra food in the colder months and other will need less to replicate the drop in exercise. It’s easy for your pet to put on weight over winter, as they won’t be exercising as often. So, as always, make sure that your pets are eating a well balanced diet.
If you dog or cat has arthritis you will need to be very careful that they are not left out in the cold for too long, as this will increase their pain levels. Speak to your vet about exercise and special tips for your pet in winter. You may need to up their pain medication in the coldest weeks. Make sure that you keep up with regular vet visits and health checks. Winter, like it is for people, is a common time for “cold and flu season”.
The most important part about keeping your pet warm this winter is to follow your own instincts. If you are cold and wanting to be indoors, most likely so will your pet. If you need some extra flannelette of a night-time, so might they. Don’t ever think just because they have fur they will be warm enough, while some animals are ‘made’ for the cold, many are not and many need some extra winter cuddles!