While much of this advice is common sense, there are a few tips here that even the most seasoned pet owner might not know about. Keep your pets healthy, happy and snuggly this winter by following a few simple steps.
Keep cats indoors.
Even cats that go outside during the warmer months should not be allowed out when it gets below freezing. It’s just too cold. Dogs vary greatly on the ability to endure the cold, but we’ll get to that later.
Feed your dog more.
If your dog loves spending time outdoors during winter, make sure to feed him more, as it takes a lot of calories to keep warm. Same goes for humans, actually, and horses and all other mammals.
Keep water from icing over.
Routinely check your pet’s water dish to make sure the water isn’t freezing. I recommend the K&H Thermal-Bowl. I’ve had mine for five years now, and it’s going strong. Whatever you do, don’t use a metal bowl. Your pet’s tongue can stick and freeze to it, and that would not be fun.
Mind the windchill.
Temperature isn’t the only thing to consider when letting your pet out of doors. Wind chill can be extremely dangerous. Fido and fluffsters can be at risk for frostbite and hypothermia, even if left outside for short periods of time. And remember that even mildly cold weather can increase arthritic pain in animals, so keep that in mind for those lovable seniors.
Suit up your short-haired dog up before a winter walk, and go in shorter loops for any dog in extreme weather so you can always get home in a jiffy. If you see your dog shiver, it’s a sign to go straight home, do not pass go, and binge watch Netflix.
For high quality, reasonably priced canine outerwear, may I suggest Dover Saddlery. These products are designed to keep dogs warm at and around the barn. If there’s one thing I know about horse people, they tend to take their dogs out in all sorts of weather and are used to bundling all their furry friends up. Is your dog cold even indoors? A Chilly Dog Sweatermight be just the ticket.
Don’t forget the foots.
Smaller or more sensitive dogs may benefit from paw boots. May I suggest the Ruffwear Polar Trex Boots for those serious about winter outings. A less expensive but good alternative is Muttluk’s Snow Mushers.
My Saint Bernard, of course, needs none of that, but like all dogs, she’s susceptible to paw-pad irritation from road salt. I use a damp towel that I keep on a rubber mat near the front door. I’m sure there are fancier ways to wipe a dog’s paws, but this seems to do the trick. Need to ice your own walk or driveway? Skip the rock salt and go for a dog, kid, and eco-friendly alternative, such as Safe Paw.
Wear reflective or at least light-colored clothing when you walk at night and add a collar light like the PupLight I use. It’s easy to get on and off and offers flashing as well as steady light.
Be like Mr. Rogers.
My last piece of advice is to be a good neighbor. If you run across a pet left out in the cold, inform the owner of the dangers of doing so. If it’s too cold for you to hang outside, it’s too cold for your pet.
Have a product or tip you are dying to share? Comment below. We’d love to hear from ya!