As the temperature drops and snow begins to fall, many people prepare for winter. Whether it's winterizing your pipes, breaking out the warm coats, or stocking up on hot chocolate and firewood, winter prep is a part of most people's lives. However, what are some things that you can do to keep your pet healthy and safe during the winter months? Continue reading to learn more about winter pet care.
Winter Pet Care
If your pet is an outdoor pet and spends their nights sleeping outside in a doghouse, you should consider bringing them inside to sleep during the winter months. This is because your dog could get hypothermia and freeze outside. Even if the temperature on your thermometer is not freezing, the wind outside can make the temperature feel like it is colder than it actually is.
If you bring your pet inside (which is highly recommended), make sure that you give your dog a warm spot to sleep. If you have a doggie bed outside, you can bring it inside and place it somewhere in the house. Another thing to be sure of is that they have blankets too.
If you are hesitant to bring your dog inside for various reasons, you can still allow them inside as long as they are confined to space. Whether it be a playpen with their bed or a spot in the garage with a space heater, the choice is up to you.
Food & Water
When it comes to your dog's food during the winter months, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first one and arguably the most important is to keep some stockpiled. The American Humane states, "In a winter storm, you may not be able to leave your home for a few days." This makes it extremely important to make sure you have food for your pet on hand.
You may even want to get extra food for your stockpile as you are going to want to feed your pet more. This is because they burn extra energy trying to stay warm in the cold.
Even if there is snow on the ground outside, your dog will still need a fresh supply of water. This is important because during the winter, your pet needs a good coat to stay warm and drinking water can help keep their skin less dry.
Your dog's coat is important to keep healthy because it helps keep them warm. If you have a longer-haired breed, you are going to want to regularly maintain their coat to keep dirt and snow from getting trapped. You can cut it a little bit shorter if you want to stop it from clumping.
However, if your dog has a shorter coat, we recommend that you invest in a few dog sweaters. Not only are these fashionable, but they also help keep your pup warm in the cold. Look for ones that cover their abdomen and are large enough to go from your dog's neck to their tail.
While it is important to make sure that your dog is clean, you may want to cut back on how often you are bathing your dog during the winter. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) states, "Washing too often can remove essential oils and increase the chance of developing dry, flaky skin." If you need to bathe your dog, use a moisturizing dog shampoo and never bathe them outside in winter months, or send them outside with a wet coat. To learn more about bathing your dog, check out this article here for more information and a step-by-step guide as to how to do it right.
The next thing that you need to do for winter pet care is to make sure that your pet is still getting exercise. If you own a cat, this could be playing inside with them. The same thing applies to the dog, however, you might have to adjust what you are playing. For more on keeping indoor pets active during the winter check out this article here.
If you still would like to opt into taking your pet out for walks during the winter, make sure that they are warm and wearing their sweaters as mentioned above. Another thing to have on your walks is reflective gear such as a leash, collar or clothing for yourself. You want these so cars and other vehicles will be able to see you as the days get shorter and the nights get longer. The last thing you want to get for your dog's walks is booties for their feet to keep them warm and safe from the snow. Just make sure that your dog is comfortable with them.
There is a lot of things to be careful about when it comes to car safety. To start, don't leave your pet in the car when you go shopping. Even though it is not summer and your dog will not overheat in the car, they will not be warm and will get very cold.
Another thing to look out for in cars is antifreeze. This is highly toxic to dogs. The American Kennel Club, (AKC) states, "As little as a teaspoon of antifreeze can cause kidney failure." To avoid this, be sure to clean up any spills and keep your antifreeze sealed and stored on a high shelf. Another precaution to take is to clean your dog's feet as they might have stepped in some on a walk and try to lick it off.
The last winter pet care tip for car safety is to check the hood of your car. This is because cats, including strays, like to sleep in the warm pockets in your car. Before you start your car, pound on your hood to wake up any cats that may be inside.
Additional Tips For Pets In Winter
1.) The Weather Channel recommends taking your pet in for a check up when winter approaches, to make sure there isn’t an unknown health problem putting your pet at an increased risk.
2.) After allowing your pet outside, be sure to clean his or her paws when she returns inside. According to the American Humane Society, “Tender pads can be injured from salts and other ice-melting chemicals.”
3.) Be aware that outdoor pets need more calories during the winter months as they burn more in their efforts to keep warm when the temperatures drop. Talk to your vet about appropriately increasing your pet’s caloric intake based on the amount of time they spend outside during the winter.
4.) Regularly check your pet’s outside water source. With seriously low temperatures, especially at night, your pet’s water supply may freeze faster than you think. According to the website HealthyPet.com, “Animals who don’t have clean accessible water will turn to gutters and puddles” – which can inadvertently lead to them ingesting any number of dangerous things (such as antifreeze, oil, etc.) that have run off into these water sources.
5.) Consider adding a glucosamine supplement to your pet’s daily routine. Colder temperatures can lead to an increase in joint discomfort and stiffness. Giving your pet a glucosamine supplement can help them regain mobility and get around easier.
6.) If your pet must be outside for any period of time, make sure he or she has an appropriate shelter available. The American Humane Society suggests, “a draft-free shelter large enough to stand and turn around in, yet small enough to retain body heat. Use a layer of straw or other bedding material to help insulate your pet against the cold.
When it comes to winter pet care, you want to make sure that your dogs and cats are safe. To recap the main things, let your pet sleep inside, make sure they have enough food and water, bathe them inside, and watch out for antifreeze as even a small amount can be lethal.