As temperatures continue to drop, it is important to remember that pets can have a hard time in cold weather, just like humans, but there are a few things you can do to keep your pets warm during the winter months, especially during a weather event like the one we are currently experiencing.
First of all, it is important to know that elderly pets, puppies and pets with illness are the most at-risk for cold weather deaths.
An animal’s fur may not protect them from the elements as well as you think, so here are some helpful tips to keep your dogs and cats safe in the cold:
Provide a warm space.
It is important that pets have a warm space to retreat to in cold weather. Keeping pets indoors is the best option, but be wary of space heaters that can cause burns or get knocked over and start a fire. Be sure that plug-in heaters are safely away from dogs and cats. Also, a cold car can be just as dangerous as a hot car, so keep your pet with you if they are out with you.
Take care of the paws.
Just like our need for lip balm increases with the cold, paws can become sensitive to chapping. To prevent this, apply some natural pet-safe oils like olive oil, coconut oil or canola oil to hydrate and protect paws before walks or trips outdoors, recommends Leslie Kessinger, owner of Three Dog Bakery in Mt Juliet. Kessinger says shea butter can also be applied after walks if pads are dry or irritated from the salt. Booties are also an option. Also, once you return from a walk be sure to wipe off paws and belly because deicers and antifreeze can be stepped in, and you don’t want your dog licking poisonous substances.
Watch for hypothermia.
Signs that your pet may have a dangerously low body temperature include shivering, slow movements, whining, burrowing for warmth and weakness. If you think your pet may have frostbite or hypothermia contact your veterinarian immediately. Tips of ears and paws are typically the first places that frostbite will set in.
Bundle up for walks.
It could be a fashion statement or just good sense, but if your putting a coat on your pet probably needs one too. There are breeds that stand the cold better than others, such as huskies and other thick-coated dogs, but short-haired and small dogs will truly appreciate a coat that covers from the base of the tail on the back around to the belly. For dogs that don’t like wearing clothing, Kessinger suggests an infinity scarf around their neck or even up over their ears, which will keep them very cozy.
Also, while overfeeding is not recommended to keep your pet healthy, a bit more protein in the winter can help thicken the coat.
Remember, your pet gets cold just like you get cold, so sheltering them from the elements and making sure they are well fed and warm are the best ways to make it through the winter with your furry friends.