Throughout much of the country, the winter months are cold and unforgiving, especially for pets left outside or not properly cared for. Here are some helpful tips to make sure that your pets are properly taken care of during the cold winter months.
Try to keep your pets indoors as much as possible, especially for small dogs and cats who’s fur isn’t designed for extended exposure in harsh weather. Dogs and cats are always better off indoors, except for the times when taken out for a walk or for exercise. Make sure to not leave your pets outside for extended periods of time when the temperature is low. Pets are sensitive to severe cold and can even run the risk of developing frostbite and hypothermia if they are outside during intense cold snaps. If the temperature is low enough, exposed skin on the animals ears, nose, and paws can suffer permanent damage so always have your dog spend as much time indoors, safe from the elements.
If for some reason your dog is going to spend most of the time outdoors during the winter, here are a few tips on how to make sure that your animal is as safe as possible. First take your pet to a veterinarian for a pre-season check up where they will determine if its safe to keep your dog out in the cold weather. Second, make sure that your dog has a suitable dog house where it can go to escape the harsh weather and be safe. The dog house should be elevated several inches off of the ground to prevent moisture from seeping into the floor. The dog house should also be moved away from the shady spot that most dogs use during the summer, and instead be placed in a sunny space of the yard. Third, place cedar chips or straw on the inside of the doghouse for bedding to help keep your pet warm. Rugs and blankets are not recommended because they draw moisture and can freeze during below freezing weather. Lastly, you should increase the amount of food that you are giving your pet during the winter months. You should feed your dog 15% more for every 20 degrees drop in the temperature. Your animal is burning more calories to keep warm so make sure to help replenish that.
Make sure to protect your animals during the cold winter months. Cats and dogs are incredibly social animals who crave the companionship of humans, so if possible, allow them into your warm homes this winter.