After an unusually mild Christmas this year, the current cold snap has been a bit of a surprise. On Christmas Day we were walking around without coats or sweatshirts – some of us in t-shirts! But then, as soon as the New Year hit, we’ve been hitting lows in the 20’s and barely getting into the 50’s during the day. It seems as though winter weather has struck with a vengeance. This may leave you wondering, now that winter weather is truly here, how can I keep my pets safe and warm?
- Winter Gear: Of course most of our pets do have a fur coat, but even still, excessive cold can still cause frostbite and hypothermia. You know how much the windchill can seem to cut right through your many layers just running from the store to your car. The same goes for your pet’s fur coats, it won’t always be all they need to protect them (especially if it gets wet from snow or freezing rain). To keep them warm you can always help by layering them up.
– Coats & Sweaters: These work much better with dogs than cats, however, if you start your cat wearing outerwear early, then you may have success in getting them to actually wear them. Putting an outer layer on your pet for some outside time is a great idea, providing that you are with them either on a leash or supervising them. You don’t want to just put a coat on them and walk away, leaving them to play. They could easily get tangled and injured, possibly even suffocate.
– Booties and Shoes: Most pets will shy away from this at first, but it’s good to get them acquainted with booties for when the ground is frozen. It’s best to start by buying a pack of baby socks and have your pet wear them around the house to get used to having something their feet. Then, when it’s time to go outside and it’s freezing, they’ll welcome the warm booty that protects their pads which can get frostbite pretty easily.
- Outdoor Shelter: If your pet is indoor/outdoor or just an outdoor pet, it is imperative that they have a little shelter outside for the winter weather months. If your cats are indoor/outdoor, they may refuse to come in at night, no matter how much you call them. That’s why you should have a little shelter set up for them in case it gets too cold for them overnight. A basic shelter needs to be partially covered to protect them from the wind and precipitation. Use hay or blankets to give them something to snuggle up with and they should be just fine. Also, make sure that they have access to water that won’t freeze over. You can purchase heated bowls that will keep fresh water available for them. If their shelter is in a garage or shed, make sure there is no antifreeze or other toxic chemicals around. Anti-freeze is especially dangerous because it is sweet and some pets find it delicious, even though it is deadly.
- Potty Breaks & Walks: If you have a lot snow and your pet won’t use the potty outside try shoveling a spot out for them and putting a pee pad down to make it seem a little warmer. Now that it gets darker earlier, chances are you are taking them out in the dark when you get home from work. Make sure to have a reflective leash and a flashlight if you’re walking with them after the sun goes down. One last walking tip, if the sidewalk or road has been salted, make sure to put booties on your pet to avoid possibly burned pads. Not all road salt is harmful to pets, but it’s better to be safe than sorry! If booties aren’t an option, be sure to rinse your pet’s paws in warm water and dry thoroughly, upon return home.
Winter is a time of playing in the snow, snuggling on the couch with cocoa, and not worrying about if our loved ones are safe. That’s why keeping our pets safe and warm during the frigid winter weather is so important.