Now that November has arrived, temperatures are dropping and cooler weather is rolling in across the country. Colder weather is great, but it is important to understand how it affects your pet and how to keep them safe during this upcoming season. There is a common misconception that dogs and cats are more resistant to colder weather due to their fur, however, that is not the case. Our four-legged friends are just as vulnerable to the negative side effects of cold weather as we humans are. In fact, you should start looking at it from the perspective of, if I am cold my pet is most likely cold too. Dogs and cats are susceptible to a long list of health problems during the winter. On the bright side, there are plenty of tips & tricks that you can incorporate into your pup's daily routine to prevent them from having a dark winter full of vet visits.
Taking care of our pets during the coldest months of the year is just as important as taking care of them during the warmest months. The cold weather affects our pets in several ways. Unlike the warm months, our fluffy friends seek heat by avoiding the cold floor and instead finding a warm cozy spot to rest in. It is important to add a blanket or two to your pet's bed and keep an eye on them around fireplaces and heaters. Outdoor cats tend to seek warmth by climbing into car engines so always double-check before starting your car. Another misconception during the winter months is that it is okay to leave your pet inside the car while you run into the store. Unfortunately, the car can be just as dangerous during the cold as it is during the warmest summer days. Cars trap air inside of them like a refrigerator and, therefore, it can cause your pet to freeze leading them to have serious health concerns including death. As with humans, pets can suffer hypothermia if they are left in cold places for too long, such as in a car or on a street. It is important to keep them as warm as possible to avoid any of these serious problems.
During the winter season, your pets use quite a bit more energy to keep their core body temperature high enough. Due to them executing more energy like this you may notice that your pet has a larger appetite than normal. Consult with your vet first, but you may want to increase your pet’s food portions to help keep their energy up. Pets, like humans, are susceptible to illness during the winter season which is also why it is important to pay attention to their core body temperature. Low body temperature in pets can lead to severe problems such as organ failure.
Another common side-effect of cold weather is skin problems. By repeatedly going outside into the cold and inside to a warm house your pet can develop itchy and flaky skin. As a result of moisture trapped in their fur or between muddy paws, skin infections are highly prevalent during the winter season. If you live in a place with snow it is common for there to be antifreeze on the ground as well. Dogs are very attracted to antifreeze, however, it is very toxic for them. If you believe your pet has ingested antifreeze call the Animal Control Poison Center at 1-(888)-426-4435 immediately. Places with an even colder climate than normal also increase your pet's chances of getting frostbite. Frostbite can only take a few minutes to develop when standing on the cold ground. Investing in booties for your pet to wear on walks is a great idea to avoid any skin or paw problems.
There are many ways you can protect your pet from developing any negative side effects of a harsh winter season. The most important thing to remember is that if you feel cold your pet most likely is cold too. Here are 5 ways you can keep your pet warm and cozy all winter long.
- After each walk or playtime outside, dry off your pet’s feet and stomach. If you plan to go on a long walk it may be helpful to bring a towel with you in case they step in ice, salt, and chemicals. Investing in a pair of booties is also a great way to protect their paws. Pay attention to any cracks in their paw pads or redness between the toes.
- Do not shave your pet down during the winter. Think of your pet’s hair as a coat that we would wear to keep us warmer. If you have a dog with long hair, trim it so that it does not get cling to ice balls, salt crystals, and de-icing chemicals. Small trims are also important to prevent matting. If your pup is short-haired it could be helpful to get them a dog sweater to keep them warmer.
- Don’t bathe your pet as often during the winter. Bathing your pet too much can remove necessary oils and increase the chance of dry and flaky skin. When you do have to bathe your fluffball try using a moisturizing shampoo.
- Create a warm place for your pup to sleep that is safe and off of the floor. Investing in a cozy dog bed for the winter will keep your pup much warmer and happier. Throw in a soft blanket and pillow and you have the perfect cozy spot.
- Know the signs of when your dog is feeling too cold. If you believe your pet is experiencing hypothermia seek veterinary care immediately.
- Seeking shelter
- Hunching their back
- Tail between their legs
- Refusing to continue what they are doing at the moment
Winter months are an exciting time for us humans and our pets. Let’s keep them filled with happy and healthy memories by staying educated on how to keep our pets warm. Subscribe to Pawtocol to stay informed on the latest pet parenting tips and news. Pawtocol is committed to bettering the lives of pets and pet owners and that starts with keeping our pets healthy. You can visit Pawtocol to learn more about how you can support the mission.