Dogs and cats may wear a warm coat of fur, but they can still be vulnerable to cold weather. This is especially true for breeds that do not have a double coat, and those with short fur and areas of skin with little or no fur at all.
During the winter, pets are prone to hypothermia, frostbite, inflammation and dry, itchy skin. You can protect them from the elements by keeping them warm indoors and making sure they have the right gear when they spend time outside.
Why Your Cat Should Stay Indoors
Regardless of the weather, you should keep your cat inside if you want them to live a long, healthy life. Year-round, outdoor cats are prone to fights with other cats and animals, getting hit by a car, picking up diseases and parasites, and consuming mice and rats that have ingested poison.
When it’s cold out, your cat may not be able to find shelter and can die of hypothermia. Cats and other creatures are drawn to cars because they tend to be warm after the engine has been on, so they may curl up under the hood or on a tire, where they could be killed if the car is started while they are napping in it.
Keeping Your Pets Warm At Home
A heated home may be sufficient to keep some pets warm, but others will shiver even when indoors. Sweaters can help keep your pets warm if they will wear them, but it’s not unusual for pets to prefer to go naked, even when they’re cold.
Soft pet beds with tall sides make the perfect nesting place for dogs and cats. You can put a blanket inside for your pet to burrow, though they may like it if you tuck them in at night. In the winter, your pet may be more likely to climb into bed with you. Sleeping with your pets is fine as long as it does not interrupt your quality of sleep. They’ll help you stay warm, too!
Your pet may also seek out areas of your home where the sunlight comes through the windows. You can put down a blanket in these sunny spots to help your pet keep warm during the day.
Keeping Your Dog Warm Outdoors
Whenever you take your dog outdoors in the winter, you should be on the lookout for signs that they are too cold. Usually, it will be pretty obvious: they will shiver and refuse to play, and try to go back inside.
You can help your dog keep warm with a waterproof dog jacket. Knit sweaters are appropriate for dry, chilly sweater, but they’re not good for the snowy or rainy weather because they soak up moisture and keep it close to the skin.
Your dog’s paws have a compact system of veins and arteries that keep them from freezing. So you do not necessarily need to put booties on your dog for quick potty trips. You may want to use booties to keep their paws from getting irritated by de-icing salts, as well as areas that may have rocks, thorns or burrs on the ground.
Dogs typically get frostbite on their ears, nose, tail, and paws. If you’ll be out for an extended period of time, check these body parts for stiffness or loss of color.
Warm Treats For Your Pets
When your pets are especially chilly, particularly after coming inside, you can offer a hot treat to warm them from within.
You can pour hot water over your pet’s food to bring out the aromas and flavors. You can also use broth, or give broth on its own as a special treat.
Make homemade vegetable, meat or bone broth, or use store-bought. The broth should be low in sodium and not contain onions. Though most other seasonings are safe in small amounts, double-check with your vet if you are not sure.
Other warm treats can include freshly baked homemade treats, cooked meat or eggs, or a pet-friendly soup made of blended veggies.
How do you keep your pets warm in the winter? Share your tips in the comments!