What are the best ways to care for your pet this winter? With the onslaught of cold weather, many people are taking to the indoors—snuggling up close to the heater with cozy blankets and the warmth of their furry friends. Just as the cold weather affects you, it also affects your pets. While some pets are familiar with staying indoors all day, some are not.
5 Ways to Care for Your Pet This Winter
Whether your pets typically stay indoors or outdoors, there are still adjustments that should be made during winter.
Cozying up in front of the fireplace or close to the heater isn’t just a human habit—it’s an animal one too. Heat sources produce enough heat to keep the entire house warm and can become extremely hot. Animals, even ones used to indoor heat sources, may try to snuggle up to a heat source and accidentally burn themselves because they don’t recognize the severity of the heat. Try to block off heat sources so your pets don’t get too close.
Many people are guilty of gaining a pound or two during the winter months, especially from all the holiday foods. Part of this is because they feel less motivated to go outside or exercise in the cold. Pets are the same way! While they used to have the stamina to play outside for hours, in the winter, their bodies can’t handle the cold. They may begin to put on a few too many pounds from lack of exercise, or they might need more calories to keep warm. Pay close attention to your pet’s weight, eating habits, and exercise to determine if you should be feeding them more or less.
If your pet needs a potty break or exercise, make sure you prepare them for the cold. Short-haired dogs should wear a sweater that covers their bellies and extends from the neck to the tail. All pets should have trimmed fur around their paws so that ice and deicing chemicals don’t cling to their paws. Not all deicing chemicals are pet-friendly and can harm your pet’s paws by causing cracks and redness between their toes. If you notice your pet limping or bleeding, visit your local vet, like sunnysidevetclinic.com. Using booties to protect your pet’s paws, regularly wiping their paws after being outside, or using a paw protectant salve can also keep your pet’s paws safe.
In the winter, many people suffer from chapped lips and dry skin. While we have access to lotions and chapstick to keep our skin moist, pets don’t have the same luxury, which is why it is important to limit baths. Bathing can dry out the already dry skin of your pets. However, this doesn’t mean your pets shouldn’t get a bath from December to March, that would be a smelly choice. Simply give them fewer baths than you would during the warmer, more humid months.
Some pet owners who typically keep their pets outside will let them stay in mudrooms or garages during the winter. If this is the case for you, make sure that these areas are warm and safe for your pet. When cats get cold, they will sometimes try to find warmth in car engines. This can have disastrous results. Similarly, if kept in the garage, pets may find dangerous chemical spills (like antifreeze) that they can’t resist trying. Again, the consequences may be dire. Make sure the area you keep your pet is clean and warm. Use old blankets or towels to keep them comfortable and off cold surfaces.
Making winter adjustments for your pet will keep them (and you) happy. So snuggle close and keep warm!