Tips for Winter Pet Care

Having a pet, especially an outdoor pet, can be difficult when temperatures drop. It’s a common misconception that animals with fur can withstand colder temperatures better than humans.

This may be true for certain thick-furred animal breeds like huskies or malamutes, but most animals get just as cold as humans do during the winter. A little bit of fur isn’t enough to protect them from the harsh elements.

Fortunately, there are a few tried and true tips to help you keep your furry friends healthy during the colder winter months.

Read on to learn more about taking care of your pet during the frigid winter weather.

For Outdoor Pets

Don’t assume that because your animal is covered in fur, it’s enough to protect them from the elements. If it’s too cold for you to be outside, it’s probably too cold for your pet. If you must keep them outside, be sure to provide them with a dry, warm shelter that’s not too drafty. A blanket or sweater won’t hurt either.

Watch Their Diet for Changes

Many animals burn more energy during the winter trying to stay warm, so more food might be necessary. However, some animals sleep more and exercise much less to conserve energy, so they may need less food. Be sure to pay attention to your fur baby’s winter eating habits to make sure you provide them with the appropriate amount of food.

Fresh water is still important, even when it’s freezing outside. But your dog doesn’t want to lick ice to get hydrated, so be sure their water is not frozen and refill it as many times as necessary.

Skin and Paw Irritation

Wind and chemicals used to clear snow can cause serious irritation to your furry friend’s skin. Bringing them in and out of warm temperatures inside to cool temperatures outside can also cause problems. Try to avoid bathing if possible, as it can deplete the essential oils from your pet’s coat. If you must bathe your animal, use a moisture rich shampoo recommended by your vet.

Paws can also get damaged from walks in cooler temperatures. Consider using a paw protectant or petroleum jelly on paw pads before going out to avoid cracking and other damage. Bring a towel if going on a long walk and check for redness or damage.  Towel dry your dog before bringing them indoors if it’s snowing or raining.

Sleeping Arrangements

No one likes a cold floor. Provide your pet with a draft-free, warm place to sleep off of the floor. A pet bed and pillow and/or blanket should be all your pet needs to keep warm during those cold winter nights. Give them options, as well. They may prefer to switch sleeping spots to be warmer or cooler depending on the indoor temperature.

Be Aware of Health Problems

Animals with arthritis will likely experience more pain when it’s colder, so don’t be surprised if it worsens as the temperature goes down. Some animals with serious health problems like heart disease, diabetes, or kidney disease, will have a harder time regulating body temperature and need to be kept as warm as possible.

Pet-Proof Your Home

If your pet spends most of his time outside during the warmer months, take a look around and make sure your house is properly pet-proofed before bringing them in for a long-term stay. Simple hazards like dangling cell phone chargers and chemicals under the sink could cause harm to your pet.

Check Your Car

Warm engines are tempting resting spaces for kittens and other small animals. Before getting in your car, bang on the hood to alert any animals hiding under there before starting the engine.

When winter sets in, take special care of your furry friend. Start by paying attention to their dietary needs, and keep them inside when it’s just too cold. Be more vigilant in monitoring the diet and health needs of older animals and those with chronic diseases that can affect body temperature regulation.

All animals benefit from a warm place to sleep and a home that’s free of hazards. Take care to provide your fur baby with these things when the weather’s too cold for them to be outside.

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