Keeping Pets Warm in Winter
Most of us are aware of the dangers of our pets overheating in warm weather, but what about their safety in the cold? It’s a mistake to think that a pet’s fur can protect them from winter wind, rain, snow, and wind. A good rule of thumb is, if it’s too cold outside for you, it’s too cold for your pet.
It’s true that some Northern breeds are better equipped to handle cold conditions than short haired, thin skinned breeds (like a chihuahua). But even these dogs need protection from the elements. What are your ideas for keeping pets warm in the winter? Stay tuned as The Pet Experts take you through some best practices to keep everyone in your pack safe and comfortable.
Keeping Pets Warm
Like humans, pets will tolerate cold to different degrees, depending on their breed, age, coat condition, general health, and nutrition. You know your pet best, so be mindful of what they need.
Here are some best practices for keeping your pet warm when temperatures take a nosedive.
Keep them in – it goes without saying that the best way to keep pets warm is by keeping them indoors during cold weather. A warm bed or a place up off the floor will go a long way to keeping them comfortable, especially if they’re older. If there is a warmer part of your house, allow them access to that area.
To sweater or not to sweater – ugly holiday sweaters aside, some pets will need an extra layer of warmth, even indoors. A warm sweater or dog coat will also keep pets warmer when going outside for potty breaks or the occasional walk. Older pets, sick pets, puppies and kittens, and thin skinned, short coated dogs will be very appreciative of this creature comfort.
Although they may not add much warmth, booties can be a great addition to your dog’s outdoor wardrobe because they can protect sensitive paws from ice, snow, and toxic chemicals that can collect in the fur between the pads.
Shelter is a must – if your dog must be outdoors, he must have access to a warm, dry shelter. This shelter should be up off the ground, with insulation of some kind (blankets, shavings, straw, or burlap sacks). The opening of the shelter should be covered with plastic or canvas, to effectively block wind and wet. Ideally, you would have a heat source connected, check with your contractor for ideas.
Outdoor cats – cats should not be left outside in inclement weather, even if they freely roam during other seasons. A shed, garage, or barn will give enough shelter to most outdoor cats, but be sure to provide a warm bed for them.
Speak up – if you see an animal (horses included) left out in the cold, gently let the owners know you’re concerned. Most people aren’t aware of cold weather concerns for pets and will be quick to correct any problems. If you meet resistance, contact the Humane Society of the United States for guidance.
A Word About Community/ Feral Cats
If your neighborhood has a feral cat community, know that these cats also need shelter from the cold. Many of them will find any warm spot they can – including a warm car engine! Make sure you check under your hood and honk your horn before starting your engine.
If you’re so inclined, many people have made feral cat shelters using any number of DIY materials. Here’s a video to get you started.