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How to Keep Your Pet Warm During Winter

Winter is officially here which means temperatures are plummeting.  This might be a concern if you aren’t sure how to keep your pet warm during winter.

 We are here to help! This article will provide some important guidelines that will keep your furry friend from freezing.

Know Your Pet’s Unique Needs

Some animals are more sensitive to the cold than others.  You need to determine your pet’s unique tolerance level for low temperatures. 

 This will give you a much better idea of the steps required to keep your pet warm in winter.  Your pet’s capacity to handle the cold depends on several factors that are listed below.

Coat Type

Although animals with long, thick coats have a higher tolerance for cool temps, don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security.  Extreme temperatures can still be dangerous for your furball.

 And pets with short coats and/or short legs have an even more difficult time managing the cold.  Take extra caution if your pet has either of those two characteristics.

Overall Health   

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and hormonal imbalances can hinder the temperature-regulating capabilities of your pet’s body.  If you aren’t careful, this could lead to serious health issues.

 Arthritis is another condition that could be dangerous in winter, as it may increase the risk of your pet slipping and falling in the snow or on the ice. 

Age

Both old and young pets may find it difficult to deal with cold weather.  If your pet is a baby or a senior citizen, keep an extra close eye on your four-legged buddy.

Offer Several Sleeping Arrangements

Your pet knows better than anyone what he or she needs in order to keep warm.  And that could change from day to day, depending on the fluctuations in temperature.

 With that being the case, it’s a good idea to provide more than one bed for your precious pet.  Each option should offer a different amount of warmth so that your pet can choose which is best for any particular day.

 When trying to choose the right beds, pick products that are made of thick material.  This will help keep your pet warm. 

 And add a few blankets to the beds.  To create varying levels of warmth, add more covers to some beds and fewer covers to others.

Keep Your Pet Inside

Serious issues like frostbite and hypothermia are real concerns when temperatures dip too low.  If your pet’s nose, ears, and paw pads are left unprotected from the cold for too long, those sensitive body parts could freeze. 

 The Humane Society of the United States claims this could cause an irreversible injury.  That’s why it’s ideal to keep your pet inside for the majority of the winter season. 

Keep Inside Temps Warm

It won’t do your pet any good to stay inside if the internal temperature of your home isn’t warm enough.  When trying to decide on a suitable temperature for keeping pets warm in winter, a good starting point is 70 degrees.  You can slightly increase or decrease this number based on your pet’s specific needs.

Be Mindful of Your Dog’s Paws

Pet MD reveals that Dr. Rebecca Ruch-Gallie, from the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, says, “A dog’s legs, tail and ears are most susceptible to frostbite.” 

 Pet MD also states, “While there’s not much you can do for the tail and ears...dog boots will provide some welcome warmth to your dog’s paws.”

 Furthermore, you should constantly be on the lookout for cracked or bleeding pads, which indicate cold-related injuries.   

Bundle Up

If you continue to walk your dog during winter, your pooch may benefit from wearing a coat.  Buy more than one just in case your dog gets the coat wet.  With several on hand, you will always be ready to change your pup into dry doggie clothes that keep your pet warm.

Don’t Leave Your Pet in Your Vehicle

Most of us are well aware that pets should not sit in the car during the hot summer months.  But have you stopped to consider the dangers of leaving your beloved pet in a cold car? 

 When going out, it’s best to leave your pet at home if you would have to keep your dog waiting for you in the car.  Your canine may be disappointed, but your pet’s safety needs to be your top priority.

Make Outdoor Accommodations

If you have to leave your pet outside (although we sincerely hope you don’t!) make sure your pet has a warm shelter that will provide protection from the cold.  When building your pet’s winter home, you should focus on making it comfy and cozy.

 Here are some tips for keeping pets warm in winter when they must be outside:

  • Prevent heat from escaping by making the shelter small and raising the floor above the ground.
  • Even though your pet’s home needs to be small enough to trap heat, it also needs to be big enough for your furry friend to move comfortably.
  • Provide thick bedding.
  • Place the door away from the direction of oppressive winds and cover it with waterproof materials, like burlap or plastic.
  • Don’t set up space heaters, heat lamps, or heated mats in the shelter because these items could burn your pet or start a fire.
  • Remember to change your pet’s outdoor water bowl often so that the water doesn’t freeze.

Modify Calorie Consumption

Your pet might need more or fewer calories during the winter.  Whether to increase or decrease your pet’s portion sizes depends on how active your furball is during the cold months. 

 Pet MD quotes Dr. Ruch-Gallie, who says that when it snows her dog will, “go out five or six times a day...to play. On those days, she may need more calories because of the increase in exercise.”

 Dr. Ruch-Gallie also points out that some pets are actually less active during winter, saying, “Other dogs don’t like to go out at all—even for potty breaks. Because they’re less active, they should consume fewer calories.”

 If you aren’t sure how much to feed your pet during the winter season, ask your veterinarian.

 Cold winter weather may be risky if not handled properly, but there is no reason for disaster to occur.  If you take the time to consider how to keep your pet warm during winter, your four-legged companion will be just fine.  

 

References

Cold weather animal safety. (n.d.). From American Veterinary Medical Association: https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/pet-owners/petcare/cold-weather-animal-safety

 

Five ways to protect pets this winter. (n.d.). From The Humane Society of the United States: https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/five-ways-protect-pets-winter

 

Gilpatrick, J. (n.d.). 7 Tips For Caring For Your Pet This Winter. From Pet MD: https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/evr_multi_caring_for_pets_during_winter

 

How to Protect Your Pet During Winter and Cold Weather. (2014). From One Green Planet Animal: https://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/how-to-protect-your-pet-during-winter-and-cold-weather/

 

Kukes, B. (2018, October 09). Keeping Your Pets Warm and Toasty in the Winter. From Halifax Humane Society: https://www.halifaxhumanesociety.org/Keeping-Your-Pets-Warm-and-Toasty-in-the-Winter-1-20.html

Kristina Tyler is a full-time freelance writer who specializes in pet care topics.  With her life-long love of animals and passion for learning, she thoroughly enjoys researching and writing about how to care for pets.  In her spare time, she teaches Sunday School classes, creates hand drawn pictures of animals, and devours the latest books by her favorite authors.  She lives in California with her adorable kitty named Chloe and attends classes at the local community college.   

 

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