Winter is coming and your cats and dogs may start feeling the cold, just like you. Can your four-legged companions still enjoy playtime in the garden? Or are they better off in the warmth of your home waiting for warmer temperatures? Let’s go through the main rules and recommendations and make sure your pets are prepared for winter.
Their fur, a natural protection
Dogs and cats are naturally equipped to fight cold weather. Their fur is made of different types of hair. Certain types make the fur waterproof, others insulate from the cold. The denser and longer the fur is, the better insulation it provides. Also, it is important not to trim your pet’s fur too short when winter comes.
Adjust your habits depending on your pet’s characteristics
- Age and health
Young and old animals are less equipped to fight cold, as are pets suffering from a disease. Skinny or obese animals are also more affected by the change of temperature due to their unbalanced metabolism.
Certain breeds are stronger than others. Nordic breeds and sheepdogs are able to fight the cold (almost) naturally, unlike smaller breeds. The same rule applies to cats: breeds with thick coats deal with cold weather better than short-haired breeds.
- Living habits
If your pet is used to living outdoors, its coat has adjusted, and naturally follows sloughing cycles. The fur changes with the season and becomes thicker and more resistant when winter comes.
If, on the contrary, your pet prefers the coziness of your home, its coat hasn’t developed to fight the cold. Therefore, you’ll have to keep it inside.
Arrange its shelter for tough conditions
Even if your companion is used to its shelter, certain arrangements may be necessary in case of extreme cold.
- If your pet lives outdoors
- Make sure that it has access to a sheltered spot where it is protected from humidity (rain, snow) and drafts, with a floor cushion for better insulation.
- Increase its daily food intake by 20% and prefer highly nutritious and more fatty food.
- Make sure it always has enough water.
- Check its paw pads for cracks every now and then
- If your pet lives indoors
- With heating, the air in your house gets dry. Make sure that it always has water in its bowl.
- If your pet is old, place its basket near a radiator, in a spot that is protected from drafts in order to prevent rheumatisms.
- For your cat: set up a cat flap so that your cat can find shelter when it needs it.
Tips for walking your dog
If your dog is a house dog, wrap it up in a coat, especially if it is old. It’ll allow it to enjoy the walk without being cold. Adjust the length of your walk depending on the temperature, but let your dog gambol around as much as possible. Don’t forget its GPS collar, especially if it is a young and spirited dog. You’ll be able to find it right away if it runs out of sight. When you get back, massage its paw pads with moisturizing cream, especially if there is snow: road salt is indeed very irritating. Another solution is to make your dog wear boots.
A few tips for your day-to-day life
- Make sure your pet doesn’t eat snow salt during the walk, it would make it sick.
- If you bathe your pet during a cold spell, make sure it is well dried before letting it go outside.
- Put your car antifreeze out of your pet’s reach. The sweet taste attracts them, but it is a very dangerous product.
So, what are your plans to make your pet comfortable this winter? Share your tips with us in the comments!