With the onset of the cold winter months, it is important to prepare your pets to weather the cold. Cold weather can be dangerous for the health and safety of your pets. Fortunately, there are preventive steps you can take to help ensure your pets make it through the cold winter months healthy and safe.
How Cold Can They Go? Just like humans, pets can tolerate a certain level of cold weather. How much they can tolerate depends upon the pet's body fat stores, their coat, their health, and their activity level. If you have had your pet for a while, you probably have a good idea of their tolerance for cold weather. If not, be very careful and observe how well your pets do in the cold. If you walk them, you may have to shorten their walks to help protect them from the cold. If your dog is older or arthritic, they may have issues walking on snow and ice and could be at risk of slipping and falling. If your dog has a thick or long-haired coat, they may be able to better tolerate the cold weather. However, they are still at risk if exposed to extreme cold for too long.
If your dog or another pet has a short or thin coat, they are very vulnerable to the cold. You can provide them with protection with a thick sweater or a lined cape. If your pet is shorter, they may also be at higher risk since they can become colder more quickly since their bodies and stomachs are closer to the ground.
Pets with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, Cushing's disease, kidney disease or heart disease may have a difficult time regulating their body temperature making them even more susceptible to the extreme cold. Additionally, both very old and very young pets should not be exposed to very low temperatures for very long.
Keeping Them Healthy. If your pet has a chronic condition such as arthritis, cold weather may be very uncomfortable for them and may actually worsen their condition. It is a good idea to take your pet in for a wellness exam at least once a year and right before cold weather is a good time to get this done. This helps ensure your pet is ready for winter.
Keep Them In. Dogs and cats should be allowed inside during cold weather. The old adage that animals are more resistant to the cold is not true, especially when it comes to cats and dogs. If you cannot allow them inside your home, provide them with a good, warm shelter where they can get in and out of the wind. No pet should be left outside for prolonged periods during cold weather.
Check Their Paws. When you are walking your dog or if your pet is often outside during cold weather, check their paws frequently. Look for signs of damage or injury such as bleeding or cracked paw pads. Also, check for ice between the toes.
It is important to keep your furry friend healthy and safe this winter. Following these steps can help ensure they make it through the cold weather so you both can have fun when spring arrives.
Jonathan Leger is a small business owner and freelance writer. He also runs a popular question and answer site with a section dedicated to pets and pet care