Protecting our dogs and cats from harm’s way is one of the most important duties of any dedicated pet owner. And while you may be monitoring their diets and ensuring they receive proper exercise, you should also pay attention to the seasons. Winter, which brings biting cold and numbing wetness, can be an especially dangerous time for our four-legged friends. If you’re trying to keep your pet safe from winter, follow these easy guidelines.
Keep Pets Indoors
This may be the easiest form of protection for your pets. If you have an inside dog or cat, keeping him healthy often requires outdoor exercise, such as trips to the parks or a walk around the block. But if the temperature drops or the wind picks up, your dog or cat is much more susceptible to the effects of cold weather than they would be snuggled up on your couch. Ensure that outdoor excursions are limited to 30 minutes or fewer, otherwise your pet will risk developing frostbite or hypothermia.
…But I have An Outside Pet!
If you have an outdoor cat or dog, while winter would be a good time to bring them inside, there are ways to keep outside pets where they feel most comfortable. Take the proper precautions to protect your outdoor pet. Build a durable and waterproof shelter that gives your pet ample room to stand up and sit down, while being small enough to retain body heat. You can cover the floor in warming wood shavings or straw and cover the doorway in a protective burlap or plastic. Insulate and seal the roof and sides for extra warmth and water protection.
Another way you can protect your pet from the snow, ice and wind is to use clothing for particular situations. Try buying or making a pair of pet booties, a sweater, or even a raincoat to keep him dry. This is especially helpful if you have a small dog – such as a yorkie, terrier or schnauzer – or a shorthaired dog – such as a greyhound, yellow lab or a boxer. A rule of thumb to keep in mind with your pet: if you’re feeling cold, chances are so is your dog; so pay attention to your own body to better understand the saftiness of your dog.
I have an Outdoor Cat, to be Specific
Outdoor cats, either owned pets, ferals or strays need protection just as badly as indoor cats. You may think these cats are built especially well to survive winter, but they’re actually just as vulnerable to the cold, wind, snow and ice as any other pet. If your community or neighborhood has a lot of outdoor cats roaming the streets, remember that they may need some help from you with either shelter or food. The Humane Society has built this expansive guide if you’re searching to help these cold souls.
Say No to Winter Grooming
Shaving your dog or cat’s fur in the winter is a bad choice. A longer coat in the winter will provide your pet with the warmth that it needs. If you have a longhaired dog, you can trim the acutely long clumps around the belly and the paws to deter clinging ice. On a related note, avoid giving your dog a bath during the winter. If you need to bathe your pet, make sure he’s dry before he goes back outside.
If you’re noticing dander coming from your cat or dog’s coat, it may be caused by him repeatedly coming out of the cold and into the dry heat of your home. Keep a humidifier running in your home to avoid this problem and dry your pet as soon as you walk into the door. It’s especially important to dry in between his toes, as ice and snow can become lodged in those small crevices and potentially cause frostbite. While you’re down there, check for cracks in your pet’s paw pads and for redness between the toes to make sure he’s in shipshape.
Proper Winter Feeding Schedule
Supplying your dog or cat with enough food and water is imperative to keeping his energy up and staving off effects of the cold. Your pet burns extra calories when trying to stay warm throughout the winter months. While you don’t want to overfeed your pet, which could cause weight problems, you can provide a little extra food in his bowl each day. Ensuring his water bowl is constantly filled to the brim will help him stay better hydrated and prevent dry skin. If you feed your pets outside, remember to use plastic bowls, otherwise your pet’s tongue may stick and freeze to a metal bowl.
Supplements to get your Pet Through the Winter
If you’re dog or cat is having trouble thriving during a cold winter, supplements may be your answer. Whether it’s vitamin D to boost his happiness, or Elk Velvet Antler to improve his immune system and increase energy, supplements will provide to your pet what he can’t get through food alone. Elk Velvet Antler is specially-formulated for:
- Old or weak pets that tend to be cold
- Working, hunting or agility dogs after a strenuous workout
- Hunting dogs on the second day of the hunt
- Puppies that fail to thrive
If your pet is struggling to stay warm, try the above guidelines and Wapiti Lab’s proven line of pet supplements to combat the cold!