At the end of a tiring day at work, nothing beats the feeling of being welcomed by the lick of a warm tongue, an enthusiastic bark, or the sweet meow of your pet dog or cat. Canine and feline pets are quite easy to care for depending on the breed. Cats are intelligent creatures while dogs are very loyal and fun to have around.
During the summer season, there are certain health problems like Lyme disease from ticks which you need to protect your pets from. There’s also the risk of appetite loss, lethargy, inflammation of the kidneys, heartworm, cardiovascular disease, dehydration, and heat stroke. Rapid response, taking preventative measures, and hygienic pet care tips for cold weather and practices are the solutions for keeping these summer diseases away.
Once the autumn season starts, it signals the entry of the coldest months of the year. Similar to summer, your pet dog or cat is also susceptible to cold weather health problems. Think of how humans are more prone to pollen allergy during spring, and the common cold during the autumn and winter seasons.
Your pets will also be exposed to colder temperatures and if their small bodies fail to adjust to the drastic change, it can lead to health problems. The good news is that there are ways for you to take good care of your pet during the winter season, which we will learn more about here.
11 Things to Remember about Winter Care for Pets
With the arrival of the autumn season comes the drop in temperatures. With winter looming, here are the top eleven things that you need to remember when caring for your pets during the colder months of the year:
1. Keep your pets indoors during the cold season
If you have a pet cat or dog, it is best to keep them indoors during the start of the cold season. Think of how humans usually bundle up once the autumn season starts. As the temperature gets colder, your body needs that extra layer of clothes to protect your body from the cold. The same thing applies to animals, so it is best to keep them indoors.
If you have a cat, remember that they can be lost, stolen, injured or even killed once snow starts coating the ground. Being outdoors also expose animals to the risks of diseases like rabies from other dogs, cats, and wildlife. If your pet spends most of the time in the backyard, you might want to keep it indoors – especially if you live in an area where winters can be particularly harsh.
2. Despite their fur, cats and dogs are not resistant to cold weather
One of the most common misconceptions that pet owners have is that animal fur serves as an automatic protection against cold weather. Although their coat does add a layer of warmth next to the skin, it cannot do the job of protecting the animal from extremely cold temperatures.
Dogs and cats are susceptible to hypothermia, frostbite, and downright freezing when exposed to cold weather unprotected. Even if you have a dog with a breed that’s known for its long hair or thick coat, you still should limit the number of minutes that it is exposed to cold weather – especially if it’s below freezing outside.
3. Colder temperatures aggravate some medical conditions
Dogs in particular are prone to heart and liver disease. Aging canines can easily have arthritis. If you have a pet with any type of health condition, it can be aggravated during the cold season which is why it pays to have a veterinary check on your pet’s health.
A once-a-year check-up should be fine but for dogs or cats with health issues, it should be more frequent.
If you have an elderly pet, it might not necessarily be a good idea to walk it in the snow. The dog could be prone to slipping, falling or freezing – and its current health condition would simply get worse.
Dogs with short legs tend to feel the cold faster because their bellies can easily touch the snow. If you have a pet with diabetes, kidney disease, hormonal imbalance, or kidney problems, it will be more difficult for them to regulate their body temperature so it is best to keep them warm indoors.
4. Puppies are more sensitive to cold than adult dogs
You might want to think twice about getting a puppy during the winter season because they are more difficult to housebreak. Another thing to remember is that puppies are more sensitive to colder temperatures than adult dogs, so they should be kept indoors at all times during the winter season.
5. Outdoor pets need to eat more during fall and winter
If you have a pet that stays outdoors most of the time, supply them with more food than usual. More food will keep their little bodies warm and their fur will be kept in tiptop shape, with proper grooming. Experts recommend that you add 10 to 15% more to a dog’s or cat’s daily diet so that its body can provide adequate warmth during the cold season.
Add some healthy fats to the regular ration of pet food, and make sure to always keep them hydrated.
6. Frosting can be a serious problem for pet during winter
During the coldest months of the year, your pet can turn into an icicle because of frosting. It’s a quite serious problem which affects the animal’s ears, the tip of the tail, and the paws. The early signs of frosting that you should watch out for is the dog or cat having firm skin that feels like wax and has blisters.
To prevent frosting from occurring in the first place, it is best to use a special coat, booties, and a head cover when taking your pet out for a walk.
7. The ground can harm the delicate paws of your pet dog or cat
Both dogs and cats have delicate paws, no matter the breed. During the cold season, you should check for signs of injury or damage.
Let’s say that you just finished a short walk. Check on the paws of your pet.
Is there a part of the skin that’s cracked, feels like wax, or is bleeding? Does it look like the dog is limping after the walk?
If this is the case, ice could have accumulated between the toes. Upon closer inspection, you would see if there is a need for you to clip the hair between each individual paw to prevent frostbite from occurring.
8. Check for cats hidden under your car tires before driving the vehicle
Cats love to hide underneath the tires of a car during winter because of the warmth that it provides. If you have a pet cat or if you know that stray cats frequently roam your neighborhood, always check if there is a feline hidden underneath one of your car tires. Shake the vehicle to distract the cat away from the tires so that you can safely drive without causing undue harm to the animal.
9. Antifreeze poisoning can easily affect your pets
When using any kind of antifreeze product for your car, remember that its remnants might lead to pet poisoning. After using an antifreeze product, clean up any spills real quick. Keep the products out of reach of your pets and little kids, if you have any.
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center recommends choosing products which do not contain Ethylene Glycol – Propylene Glycol-based products is a much better option. If you must use regular antifreeze products and coolants, thoroughly clean up the spills.
10. Dogs with short fur need clothes when walking outside
When taking your pet dog for a walk outside during the winter season, make sure that it has an extra layer of clothing to keep it warm. This is really important for dogs with short hair or a thin coat. Two pairs of booties might also come in handy if you live in an area with particularly harsh winters. The calcium or sodium chloride used to melt ice is very harsh on the delicate paws of your dog, so it is best to outfit those four legs with thick booties.
11. Make sure the outdoor shelter is warm, clean and well-insulated
Finally, if you have pets which are not kept indoors during the winter season, see to it that their shelter is warm, clean and well-insulated. Make sure that the shelter serves as a solid guard against the wind. Ideally, the floor of the shelter should be above-ground to prevent the cold from seeping in.
The door should be solid enough to ward off the cold, and the bedding should be warm, dry, and cleaned regularly. Make sure that your dog or cat also has access to a water container that will not get frozen so that can stay hydrated.
A bonus tip if you are keeping your pet dog or cat inside is to pet-proof your home. Use space heaters with caution to prevent accidental skin burns and accidental fires. Just like humans, pet dogs and cats are more prone to illnesses during the colder months of the year.
By taking preventative steps and making sure that they’re in tip-top shape, they can survive even the coldest winters and get through the winter season without any incident. Use these 11 Pet Care Tips for Cold Weather to keep your four-legged friend warm and healthy!