Are the cold temperatures starting to make you cringe when you go outside? Your pets are likely cringing too. Winter is a time to give your animal friends some extra care and attention to keep the cold at bay. The following tips can help everyone stay safe and warm during the cold season.
DRESS THEM UP
This is vital if your pet has particularly short hair. Many breeds and species of pets are from warmer parts of the globe, and they’re simply not equipped to handle the cold. Freezing temperatures can be fatal. Consider pet sweaters, jackets or booties to keep your loved one warm during trips outside.
However, if your pet has long fur or is clearly tolerant of cold temperatures, such as huskies, it may be fine to leave them undressed. Watch them closely for any signs of being too cold, such as reddened skin, shivering or cracked paws. If you see any of these, cover them up next time they go out.
KEEP YOUR PET DRY
Bring a towel with you on walks to periodically dry your pet’s feet, legs and tummy as you go. Also make sure to give them a good rub-down to dry them off when you’re back home. This serves a few purposes. Being wet will physically rob heat from your pet. In addition, their fur can pick up road salt and de-icing chemicals that need to be removed before they lick them off.
LIGHTEN UP ON THE CLIPPERS
Never shave your pet down to their skin during cold times. You can trim especially long-haired pets to keep them tidy and prevent clinging ice balls, but having a good fur coat will help protect them against frigid temperatures.
It’s also helpful to trim any hair between the toes of long-haired pets. This will prevent snow and ice from building up on their paws.
FEED THEM A LITTLE EXTRA
Staying warm takes energy, and it’s normal for animals to burn more calories during winter. If your pet doesn’t spend much time outside, this likely won’t be an issue for them. But, if they really enjoy long runs outside during winter, pay attention to how much food they’re eating. If they wolf down their usual serving of food and ask for more, it’s very likely they need it.
SKIP THE BATH
Don’t bathe your pets as often during the winter. Wet fur takes longer to dry in the cold, which can chill your pet even more. And bathing can deplete their natural oils and cause dry, flaky skin, which is also made worse by cold temperatures. If they do need a bath, get a moisturizing shampoo recommended by your vet.
Use booties or rub petroleum jelly onto your pet’s paws before heading outside. Not only will these help against the cold, they will also provide an extra layer against salt and other potentially dangerous chemicals.
Remember winter can be hard on your car, too. Keep an eye out for new spots or leaks underneath your vehicle and clean them up as soon as possible. Spilled antifreeze, oil, or other fluids can be toxic to pets if they lick them or get them on their paws or fur.
Many pets still love time outside during cold spells, but stay aware of how long they’ve been out. Whether they’re with you or alone, keep their outings short unless you know they’re alright staying out for a while. And don’t ever leave your pet alone in a cold car. A car can act like a refrigerator and hold in the cold, which puts your pet in serious danger.
Try to spend some extra time indoors with your companions and find activities to keep them moving so they still get their needed exercise. If they live outside permanently, make sure they have good shelter to sleep in for the night, and add an extra blanket to their sleeping space. And, of course, give them lots of extra snuggles. This has the added benefit of keeping you warm, too.