As the winter months loom, we take precautions to keep ourselves warm and safe, but we often forget about our four-legged family members. Our furry pets get just as cold as we do in winter and it is important to know how to keep them safe and warm.
There are many misconceptions about what dogs and cats can handle weather-wise. Some may believe that because they have fur, they can handle the cold better than we can. Remember if you are cold, so is your pet! Puppies, short-coated pets, and older dogs are often more susceptible to the cold. But even if your pet has a long thick coat, don’t assume he can handle the cold any better.
Tips for Keeping Your Pet Warm in Winter
Here are some useful tips on how to keep your family pet happy and warm through the winter:
- Keep walks short but more frequent.
- Never leave your pet in the car. Cars can act as a refrigerator and keep in the cold.
- Clean your pet’s feet with a damp cloth after a walk. The salt and chemicals can be very harsh and dry out and crack the pads of an animal’s feet.
- Ensure you remove all snow and ice from between their pads and claws.
- If your cat goes outside on a regular basis, keep an eye and an ear open for signs that she wants to come in.
- If you use salt on your driveway or walk, look for a brand that is safe for pets. Pets often lick their paws, and certain salts and antifreeze products can be toxic to pets.
- If your pet does spend a prolonged period of time outside, ensure there is a shelter or doghouse that blocks out the snow and wind.
- Keep in mind that pets that spend long periods of time outdoors need more food because keeping warm uses energy.
Consider picking up a pair of canine booties for your dog. They not only provide the warmth to prevent frostbitten paws, but protect the pads from the harsh salt and chemicals that are spread on the sidewalks. Some booties can also provide better traction in icy conditions for older pets. Some shorthaired dogs may also feel more comfortable with a sweater on for an extra layer of protection.
Keeping active is important for you and your pet but there are days when going outside for a walk just isn’t a desirable option. Consider enrolling in an obedience class or fitness class with your pet to keep you both active throughout the winter months.
What to do if you see an animal outside in the winter
Not all animals have a safe and warm home to go to in the winter. If you see a pet left in the cold, speak out and inform the proper authorities. Document what you see, the date, time, exact location, type of animal and as many other details as possible, and then contact your nearest Human Society or the local authorities. If there are outdoor cats in your neighbourhood, you can help by leaving them food and water. Change the water frequently.
Protect yourself against unexpected pet expenses
Many pet owners do not consider pet insurance until something happens to their beloved family member. But pet insurance can significantly reduce costs incurred if your pet gets sick or injured this winter.
Our pets are just as important as any family member in your household. Be kind to your pet this winter by keeping your dog or cat safe and warm.