If you live in a region where the winter months consist of freezing temperatures, ice, and snow, you may find it a challenge to spend time outdoors with your pet. Whether you venture out on a winter hike with your dog or a simply take a brief walk around the block, it’s important to keep your pet healthy and happy during colder weather. Supplements are an excellent way to keep your pets strong and prepared for the chill, but you’ll need more than that to keep your pet safe throughout the season. Consider these ten tips when caring for your pet this winter.
Watch the Weather
Many pets who love to go outdoors won’t let the weather get in their way, particularly if their human companions are willing to accompany them outside. However, plenty of well-intentioned pet owners make the assumption that their pet’s thick fur offers protection from the cold. This isn’t entirely true: just like humans, dogs and cats are susceptible to frostbite and even hypothermia. Even though there are breeds suited for colder weather like Bernese Mountain Dogs and Akita, you should take proper winter precautions with every dog.
If you’re planning on going outside to enjoy the snow for an extended period, make sure that you keep an eye on the weather and take all weather warnings seriously. If the forecast says that it’s dangerously cold and frostbite is a risk, you should probably skip the walk today.
Know Your Pet’s Limits
Remember, most dogs are eager to please, and if you’re on a snowy walk, your dog may not know his or her limits. When winter arrives, your pet may not be acclimated to the colder temperatures, so it’s a smart idea to take shorter walks and limit their time outside. According to Dr. M.A. Christ, a clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, cats may be especially sensitive to the colder temperatures, particularly if they aren’t used to spending time outdoors. If the temperature drops below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, cat owners should limit their cat’s exposure to the outdoors and consider giving supplements to their feline friends.
Watch For Ice
Ice can be hazardous for humans and animals alike. Even a small slip and fall on the ice can result in ligament tears that may require surgery. If your pet wanders onto a frozen pond or lake, he or she could even fall through the ice. To ensure that your animal stays safe and away from the ice, walk them on a leash. If you walk your pet unleashed and he or she runs after something, a car driving on an icy road may be unable to stop, putting them in harm’s way.
Wipe Down and Warm Up After Walks
Whether you take your pet for a quick stroll around the block or let him or her outside to go to the bathroom, always take the time to wipe down his or her fur and paws. De-icers, antifreeze, and other toxic chemicals can end up on your animal’s fur and paws. By doing a quick wipedown, you are reducing your pet’s risk of being poisoned due to accidental ingestion from licking its fur and paws.
Trim Fluffy Paws
Some animals have fluffier paws than others. When spending time in the snow, ice can accumulate between your pet’s toes due to excess hair. A quick trim can decrease the amount of ice that builds up.
In addition to keeping an eye on excessive paw fur, don’t forget to inspect the whole paw, paying particular attention to any cracks that may have formed on the pads.
Put on an Extra Layer
Some owners dress up their dogs; others do not. If you have a short-haired dog, like a pug or chihuahua, a sweater or jacket is a winter necessity. Make sure to have a few on hand so you can limit his or her exposure to moisture as a wet coat will make your dog colder. Booties are also a good idea for dogs who have a harder time tolerating the cold temperatures. If you somehow manage to put clothes on your cat and then convince it to go for a cold walk outside, you’re incredibly impressive. Thoroughly pat yourself on the back and then follow the above advice.
Provide Proper Outdoor Protection
Although many animal experts don’t recommend leaving your pets outdoors when temperatures are chilly, it may be difficult to keep them inside at all times. By providing proper outdoor protection, such as an insulated doghouse, you are offering important protection from the elements.
When In Doubt, Keep Them at Home
Your pet might enjoy hopping in the car to join you for drives. Winter temperatures can be just as hazardous as a hot summer day when it comes to a car trip with your animal. If you have several errands planned and the weather is uncomfortable for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet to wait for you in the car, so leave them in the warm and comfy house.
Feed and Hydrate Well
Don’t be alarmed if your pet demonstrates an increased appetite during the winter months. Additionally, with the cooler weather, don’t forget to provide fresh (and unfrozen) water at all times. Gaining weight can increase your pet’s risk of injury, so if you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s diet during the winter, talk with your vet.
Keep an Eye on Any Problems
No one knows your pet better than you. If you take the time to pay extra attention to your pet when he or she is outdoors, you will be more likely to spot any health concerns or winter-related injuries.
You and your pet can still have fun once the snow and ice arrives, just be sure to take proper precautions first. With a little bit of planning, you and your pet can overcome the colder temperatures and inclement weather together.
For more information on how our supplements make winter easier for your favorite animals, call or message us today!