Like people, some pets love cold weather. Others, not so much.
Regardless of whether or not your pet enjoys brisk winter air, you still need to take precautions to make sure your furry friend stays warm in chilly weather.
Real Dangers of Cold Weather
At the extreme end of dangers, pets can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite if exposed to cold temperatures for too long. Other ailments could include lethargy (possibly caused by hypothermia), dry skin and weight gain from not going outside enough for exercise.
Hypothermia and frostbite can present themselves in a number of ways, including:
-Shivering intensely and then no shivering
-Cold fur and skin
-Body temp below 95 degrees Fahrenheit
-Pale or blue gums and inner eyelids
-Trouble walking and breathing
If your pet shows any of these symptoms, the solution is pretty obvious: Warm them up. Quickly. Put them in a warm room, dry them if they’re wet and wrap them in a warm blanket. Once their body temperature has risen to 99 degrees, take them to the vet.
Other Cold Weather Problems
Dry skin can be another hazard of winter weather. To control itching, bathe your pet in vet-approved shampoo (not human shampoo), but not too often. Overbathing will reduce your pets’ natural oils. You can also supplement your pet’s diet with omega 3 fish oil and rub vitamin E oil directly onto your pets’ skin.
Also, be sure not to leave your pet in the car in cold weather. We all know the dangers of leaving pets in cars during the summer, but cars can get cold quickly in the winter. Rather than taking your pet with you to run errands, let it stay home in your cozy home (and maybe opt to stay home with it).
Problems for Outside Pets
If you keep your dog in a doghouse, be sure to add extra layers of insulation and always keep the bedding dry (remember, if they track in snow or ice, it will quickly dampen any blankets). Additionally, you could move your pooch’s doghouse into the basement or garage for the winter. The extra barrier will help your pup stay warmer on those long, cold winter nights.
Keeping Your Cat Warm in Winter
If you have a housecat, you have nothing to worry about. As long as you’re warm, your kitty will be, too.
Keeping outdoor cats warm gets a little trickier. The best option is to get a doghouse for your cat. Line it with straw (not hay) and place a mylar blanket inside. Raise the shelter off the ground by placing it on a pallet and attach a plastic flap across the opening to keep the cold out and the warmth in.
Winter Wear for Dogs
Many breeds of dogs, such as Malamutes, Akitas, and Bernese Mountain Dogs, are built for winter. Forget about putting a sweater on them.
However, small dogs, breeds with thin hair and elderly pooches would definitely benefit from a sweater. Also, remember their paws. De-icing chemicals, known as “rock salt,” can cause a chemical reaction that irritates dogs’ paws. Even worse, dogs may lick off the salt which could lead to burns around the mouth or intestinal issues.
To avoid these dangers, make sure the pup has a pair (two pairs?) of dog boots. They’ll keep Fido’s paws warm and safe from dangerous chemicals.
Winter can be a great time for pets. Cozy. Warm. And fun (if they like playing in the snow). Just make sure they’re protected. And protect yourself from the high cost of vet bills with SPOT Pet Insurance.