Keeping Pets Comfortable When the Weather Gets Colder

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

When we humans start feeling cold, we usually have various options at our disposal, such as putting on an extra layer of clothing, boosting the central heating, making a hot drink or lighting the fire. The pets in our lives typically don’t possess skills like these and aren’t able to communicate their needs to us very easily. Although a dog, cat or other pet will indicate that it’s cold by its body language, they’ll still need a helping hand in keeping warm and comfortable in wintry weather.

Dogs

Blue Cross1, a prominent animal charity, advises dog owners to be alert for signs that their Keeping warm in winterpets are starting to feel the cold. At this point they should be taken inside as soon as possible as most dogs are only used to being outside when they are taken for walks.

In the winter months and particularly around Christmas time, dog owners are naturally inclined to want to treat their canine friends with luxury nibbles however eating human food can give dogs an upset stomach. It’s not uncommon for them to choke on smaller bones, and human chocolates are also toxic to dogs.

Dogs that aren’t as active during the winter should be fed less otherwise they could put on excessive weight. However, dogs that spend most of their time outside should be fed more in colder weather as they need extra energy to keep their bodies warm. Being aware of these things can help your dog stay comfortable.

Pet Place2 points out that tailor-made jumpers and coats for different dog breeds can be bought from a variety of places, as can special doggie boots that can be effective in keeping their paws and legs warm in colder properties that have stone, wood or laminate floors.

Cats

Many of our feline friends like nothing better than to spend the bulk of their time curled up indoors, especially in the autumn and winter months. Because cats don’t get taken for walks by their owners and spend less time outdoors in cold weather, it’s common for them to eat more food in the winter. Some cat care advice websites suggest giving your cat supplements in cold weather, such as vitamin E and B-complex3, but it’s notoriously difficult to get cats to take tablets and they often sense when something has changed regarding their food.

Grooming cats with longer or matted hair is particularly important in cold weather as fur is their main way of naturally keeping warm. You’ll need to make sure that it is thick and healthy.

Cat beds these days come in all shapes and sizes, with fleece-lined beds being excellent for keeping them warm in the winter. Many cats also adore igloo-like covered or ‘tented’ beds. Ensure the bed isn’t too small or large, position it away from doors or other draught areas, and make sure it is slightly elevated off the floor, particularly if you don’t have carpet.

If your cat loves curling up on a sofa or even on its own chair, it’ll be appreciative of a blanket to sit on in colder weather. Some cats end up burrowing inside their blankets to keep extra warm.

When leaving your home, perhaps to go to work, set the central heating to come on at suitable intervals to ensure that your cat won’t suffer in shivering temperatures until your return.

Pets that live outdoors

Although not quite as popular as dogs and cats, plenty of households have pet guinea pigs, rabbits and other pets that live outside. The Pets Corner Petopedia4 recommends moving outdoor pets’ hutches up against the wall of the house so that they benefit from some of the heat and are tucked away from rain and wind.

Special bedding for keeping animal cages cosy in cold weather can be purchased from many shops and online stores, and straw or hay can be placed on top for extra warmth. An electrician could even be asked to install a heat-lamp in the hutch, but if this sounds too expensive and involved, just shield the hutch with a purpose-made cover or simply use some plastic sheeting that will help keep the elements out.

Water bottles used by rabbits, guinea pigs and similar pets should be checked regularly in case the water has frozen. If freezing is a common issue, water bottle covers can be bought cheaply from various places. Guinea pigs that normally live in outside hutches are best relocated into a conservatory, garage or even a shed during cold weather.

Some cats and dogs live outdoors for various reasons, too, and it’s the loving thing to do for owners to make sure their pets’ kennels or other sleeping areas are either heated or at least kitted out with warm blankets. Cats should also have a litter tray as they can often be hesitant to go to the toilet in snowy or icy gardens.

We humans don’t like the cold and our pets definitely don’t either, but by taking these simple steps it’s possible to ensure that they will be more comfortable and warm during the winter.

Sources:

  1. https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/pet-winter-survival-guide
  2. http://www.petplace.com/article/dogs/keeping-your-dog-healthy/health-safety/10-ways-to-keep-your-pet-warm-this-winter
  3. https://lifewithchcats.com/2012/01/13/how-to-keep-your-indoor-cats-comfortable-during-the-winter/
  4. http://www.petscorner.co.uk/petopedia/keeping-small-animals-warm-in-winter/
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