With winter around the corner, it's important to take extra special care of your little furry companions. Their safety is a top concern during winter weather when the weather can be unpredictable with rain and ice. Cats and dogs are both susceptible to dipping temperatures and experience discomfort as well as an increase in winter-induced ailments.
These are some simple steps you can take to keep your pet safe this winter.
Keep them indoors
Take dogs for walks when the day is clear, and there’s no smog. Avoid certain roads or pavements that can be unduly cold due to an icy layer or frost as dogs have sensitive paws. For animals, the cold can be fatal and during winter it’s smartest to give them more indoor time. Warm-up their favourite corners in the house with space heaters and hot water bottles but make sure to keep them away from direct contact to avoid burning their skin.
Provide plenty of freshwater
Providing your pets with ample freshwater is the first and most important step in keeping them safe during the cold months. Dogs show signs of increased thirst during winter as the humidity in the airdrops sharply. Both dogs and cats use up extra energy to keep themselves warm, which requires more hydration. Keep an eye on their water bowl to prevent dehydration in your pet.
Give them a cozy place to sleep
Check your pet’s sleeping area. Is your dog sleeping near the door? Is your cat curled up at the window sill? Your pet is less likely to catch a cold or develop some other health issue if they are sleeping in an area that is warmer and away from drafts. Pile on the blankets and some soft little pillows in their bed to keep them extra warm and don’t let them spend too much time on bare tiled floors.
Groom them regularly
The importance of grooming during winter is underrated and, in fact, many are unaware that regular grooming keeps your pet well insulated. Grooming avoids matting and keeps their coat healthy. Matting results in making your pet feel colder and hence more susceptible to falling sick. And yes, we are talking about the heavily coated and long-haired ones too.
Pay attention to their nails too as they don’t get as worn down as they do in summer. Winter makes everyone, including you, lazy and walks might be a little less frequent and shorter, which makes their nails grow longer. Trim them, along with the fur between their toes, frequently and keep them free of dirt.
Bundle them up in warm outfits
Short-haired dogs and cats are particularly vulnerable to the cold. Having a small sweater or a thick shirt can help them retain their body heat. Have several pairs ready to change into every time your dog or cat comes back from being outside for prolonged periods as the clothes they’re wearing could become damp. Don’t forget their ears and feet. You could opt for well-fitting booties and earmuffs to keep them completely snug.
Sometimes, your pet might not like these woolly accessories and tug at them or chew them. Make sure they don’t ingest any of the material the clothes are made of.
Provide more food but watch the weight
Shivering is a natural response to keep the body warm and you expend more calories when you do that. Dogs and cats also shiver like us and burn up more calories during winter. Try adding a few tablespoons of canned tuna or chicken breast meat on top of the dry kibble for dogs every day. For cats, feed them wet cat food like canned salmon or sardines once or twice a week.
Do remember that it’s also easy to put on weight with the decrease inactivity. While healthy fats help them keep warm, make sure to cut down on treats and table scraps to keep their weight in check. Indulge them in more energetic activities indoors and do check with the vet regularly to make sure they are in the right weight range.
Cold weather is enjoyable as far as both you and your pet are warm. Don’t ever leave your pet outside for the night in the garden or balcony. Try to put rugs where possible indoors. Keep an extra eye on older pets for signs of arthritis and other cold-induced problems.
The rule is simple - if it’s cold for you, it’s cold for them too. Take care!