Winter is a cold and difficult time for everyone. Temperatures are freezing and a simple trip to the grocery store can be a major ordeal, compared to how simple it can be in the summer. Not only is winter difficult for us humans, but also our pets.
They don’t like the cold any more than we do. Unfortunately, they don’t have a lot of control over making changes in their lives once the temperatures drop. Because of this, it is up to you to help them out. With that in mind, read on to learn about six great tips to take care of your pet in the winter.
Whether you have a dog, cat or other pet, these tips will ensure your pet will remain safe, sound and warm during the winter:
Keep Them Warm Outside
Whether you have a dog or an outdoor cat, they will still need to go outside even if it’s cold. However, you can make their time outside as enjoyable as possible. If you let them out to use the bathroom, be sure to let them back in quickly to minimize the time they need to spend out in the cold.
If you have a cat that enjoys the outdoors all year round, ensure they have a proper cat shelter or house that can protect them from the elements, such as this option from a Furry friends gear blog article.
Also, when you take them for walks be sure to try and keep them warm. Whether you give them a jacket, or some dog boots, anything you can do to keep their paws and bodies warm in the winter is a good idea.
Feed Them More
Just like humans, pets will burn more energy during the winter as their boy tries to stay warm. As a result, it can be a good idea to feed your pet a little extra in the winter, as their body is working overtime to stay comfortable. Also, provide them a lot of water to drink as it can help stop your pet’s skin from becoming too dry in the cold winter months.
However, it is important to be careful with this. While they burn more energy trying to stay warm, your pet will also likely get less exercise in the winter. This means they will burn less energy than normal in this department. Feeding them a little more than usual is often recommended, but be careful of overfeeding, which can be dangerous.
Protect Their Paws
While the fur all over your pet’s body can protect them from the cold, the main area you need to worry about are their paws. They don’t offer a lot of protection, and can get incredibly cold if you are walking on the snow or ice with your pet. While they might fuss with them a little, getting them some little boots is often a good idea to ensure their paws stay warm and safe.
In addition to keeping them warm, you should also inspect your pet’s paws after walks. During the walk, they could have picked up some road salt, de-icers and other things on their paws and could bring them into your home. Also, check their paws for cracks or cuts that could have occurred on the walk as well.
Be Careful with Chemicals
Being careful with chemicals is always important, but especially during the winter. During this time, many of us will use a variety of chemicals to do everything from keeping our car’s coolant from freezing to keeping our paths and driveways free of ice. Unfortunately, many of these chemicals can be toxic to pets.
For example, ethylene glycol (which is a main ingredient in antifreeze) can poison your dog and could ultimately lead to death. Unfortunately, because of its sweet taste, many pets will voluntarily lick it up if they discover it, so you need to be careful. Instead, find a pet-friendly alternative that you can feel safe having around and using.
Also, every time your dog comes back inside after a walk or even just after some time in the yard, it’s a good idea to wipe off their paws and fur to ensure these types of chemicals aren’t being brought inside.
Plan Your Walks Intelligently
Even if it’s the wintertime, your dog will still want to go on a walk. They will still have energy and you should make an effort to take them out at least a couple of times a week. However, you need to be smart when it comes to walks. If you go for the same duration as a summer walk, it will not only be cold and uncomfortable for you, but also the pet. Because of this be sure to keep the walks relatively short.
Also, try to take them on walks when the sun is shining, and where there are trees or buildings blocking out a bit of the wind. During the day is often a better idea than going early in the morning or at night when the sun is down and it is colder.
Ensure Heat Sources are Blocked
Like most of us, dogs and cats and other pets are always on the lookout for ways to warm themselves up. If you have ever seen your cat or dog laying in a random spot simply because the sun is there, that is a perfect example of this. They will always try to curl up where it is the warmest.
Unfortunately, this can often lead to some potentially dangerous situations. For example, if your stove is on or the radiator is going, a pet might decide that these are good places to curl up because of the heat radiating off of them. As you can imagine, this is not a good idea and can leave your pet with injuries or burns. Always keep these very hot surfaces either blocked, out of reach or covered in some way.
We hope the tips in this article have been able to help you care for your pet this winter. It is a cold and difficult time for animals so be sure to do what you can to keep them warm, safe and comfortable.
*Photos by Mikhail Nilov