While winter can be a joyful and cozy time of year to spend with your friends and family, it's also a season of cold temperatures and harsh weather.
As the temperature starts to drop, you have your coat and warm blankets to keep you warm, but your pet also needs protection from the winter weather. Read on to learn how you can make sure your pets stay warm this winter.
1. Schedule a Vet Check-Up
Before the weather gets too cold, take your pet for their annual checkup with the veterinarian to make sure they're in good health.
Cold weather can be hard on older pets or those with health conditions like arthritis or diabetes. But a check-up before the coldest months can help you prepare to keep your pet warm, comfortable, and happy.
The winter weather can also be unpredictable. It's much easier to get your pet to the vet before the snow and ice start coming down than in the middle of winter when road conditions are less than ideal.
2. Be Mindful of Grooming Habits
While humans bundle up in their big winter coats, pets have their own fur coats to help keep them warm. Because of this, your pet's grooming habits may need to change in the winter.
While you may have a routine of shaving your pet every few weeks in the summer, they need to hold on to their fur in the winter to stay warm. Never shave your pet's fur while it's cold outside. You should also avoid giving them a bath, whenever possible.
However, you don't want to abandon grooming your pet's fur altogether. If they have long hair, keep it trimmed and well-kept, especially in areas where ice and snow can collect like around their legs and paws.
Regularly brushing your pet is also important, especially for breeds with high-maintenance coats that may be seeing the groomer less in the winter. Brushing helps keep your pet's fur tangle-free and clean, and removes dry and dead skin.
3. Buy Winter Gear for Your Pet
Though your pet may have a warm fur coat, that may not be enough to protect them from the frigid temperatures outside. If your pet is older, has short fur, or is a smaller breed, they'll likely need a winter coat or sweater to go outside.
Boots are another good option to keep your pet warm and protect their paws. Not only can cold temperatures lead to frostbite on your dog's paws, but popular chemical ice melts and salt can also burn their sensitive paw pads.
4. Give Your Pet a Warm Place to Sleep
Heat rises, which means the temperature near the floor where your pets sleep can be colder than the rest of the house. This is especially true if your doors or windows are drafty.
To keep your pet warm, get them a cozy bed or blanket away from any windows or doors. If you have hardwood or tile floors, you can also consider laying down rugs throughout your home to help keep your furry friend warm and comfortable.
5. Pay Attention to Outdoor Temperatures
Before you take your pet outside for a walk, always check the outdoor temperature. While some thick-coated breeds like Huskies may thrive on a cold, snowy day, short-haired breeds or those with less body mass can quickly become too cold.
The specific temperature that's considered too cold for your pet will depend on their age, breed, and activity levels. Older pets may need more support from the cold weather than younger, more active pets.
Keep these guidelines in mind if you’re thinking about taking your dog outside:
- If temps are below 45 ℉, your pet may feel cold
- If it dips below 32℉, keep outdoor time to a minimum, especially if your dog is older, smaller in size, has a thin coat, or has health issues
- If temperatures are below 20℉, hypothermia is a risk, and most pets will not be comfortable
- Outside time should be limited to brief bathroom breaks if temperatures are in the single digits
6. Maintain Warm Temperatures Inside Your Home
Many people choose to lower the heat in their home when they leave for work or on vacation as a way to save money and use less energy throughout the winter. While this may help your energy bill, it will leave your pets susceptible to the cold temperatures.
Keep your home set at a comfortable temperature for everyone in the household and try to keep it there even when you're away from your home.
7. Keep Your Pets Inside When Possible
If you have a cat that loves to roam and explore outdoors, consider bringing them inside during the winter, especially if the temperatures have dropped too low. Not only can your pet get hypothermia quickly if it's too cold outside, but they can easily lose their way.
Snow often masks scents that pets use to track where they've been and where home is. If your pet loses that scent, they can quickly get lost, creating a dangerous situation.
You should also make sure your pet is always wearing up-to-date ID tags and that they're microchipped, in case they escape from the house.
8. Consider Feeding Your Pet More Food
During the winter, your pet needs plenty of energy to stay warm, and they often burn through their energy quickly. Feeding your pet a little extra can give them the calories they need to stay warm, active, and happy.
However, it's important to consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet's diet. For some pets, adding more calories can be detrimental, especially if they're already overweight. Your vet can help you create a diet plan that will give your pet the energy they need in a safe and healthy way.
Are Your Pets Ready for Winter?
Winter is the season for slowing down and spending more time in your home, surrounded by friends and family, but that doesn't mean you can't still have fun with your pets. As long as you take precautions to keep them warm and safe, they can have a happy, healthy winter.
The winter chill isn't the only thing you need to be ready for. Get pet insurance coverage through AKC Pet Insurance (underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company) and prepare for unexpected accidents and injuries all year long. Click here for a quote today!