How to keep your pets warm in winter.
When it comes to safety, keeping your pets warm in winter is very important, during day & night! They are your responsibility!
MYTH: Cats and dogs are resistant to cold weather because they have fur.
FACT: They do feel cold and are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia. When you are cold, they are cold too!
WHICH ANIMALS ARE MOST SUSCEPTIBLE?
- Puppies, kittens and other young animals, as they have not yet built up a resistance to the cold. Always keep them indoors, in a warm environment.
- Older pets, like people, feel the cold more.
- Short-coated animals.
- Thin breeds or species of animals.
- Pets with medical conditions. Cold weather worsens certain medical conditions, which can also cause these pets to struggle with regulating their body temperature.
TIPS FOR KEEPING PETS WARM:
- If your pet will tolerate a jersey, buy one and reduce exposures to the cold.
- Make sure you shine when walking your dog in the dark by wearing reflective gear like a leash, clothing, collar etc.
- Towel dry your dog if they come inside damp or wet. Check for cracks on the paw pads or redness between the toes and ensure you dry their feet properly.
- Ideally pets should be allowed to live inside, especially in cold or any extreme weather. If they are outside, bring them in during low/high temperatures.
- Raise their outdoor kennel off the ground. Ensure the kennel is solid, safe, waterproof and in a dry place, facing away from wind and rain. Line it with soft and warm bedding.
- Bathe your pets as little as possible during the winter. Washing them too often in general, can remove essential oils and increase the chance of developing dry and itchy skin. If they have to be bathed, ask your veterinarian for a moisturizing shampoo or use dry shampoo for a quick no-water wash.
- Anti-freeze is dangerous for pets. Thoroughly clean any spills from your car.
- Pets burn more energy to stay warm in the winter, so you can feed them a more.
- Keeping them hydrated gives the body some energy needed to regulate temperature. Ensure they always have plenty of fresh drinking water in clean bowls.
- Let their hair grow. The longer coat will give some extra protection.
- Make sure your pet has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from cold walls or areas with a draft. A cosy pet bed, large pillow or folded duvet can also work. Some pets will also feel more safe when sleeping in the igloo pet beds.
- Minimize their time outside. Limiting exposure to extreme temperatures is good for your pet.
- Don’t stop exercising because of the weather! You can still exercise outside or get some exercise and mental stimulation inside the house. There are many videos and ideas on this.
- Look for signs of hypothermia and get them to a vet ASAP: whining, shivering, anxious, slows or stops moving, weakness or looking for warm places to burrow.
- Look out for heat seeking behaviour from your pets like curling up small, shivering, seeking the heater etc.
- Provide livestock with structural shelters that have proper ventilation and bedding, as well as ample food and fresh water.
- Parasites like ticks and fleas can be present all year round. In winter they might be less, but will seek out warm places to live, like on your pet. Don’t stop tick and flea control, however, don’t dip your dog in the cold. Rather use an alternate product that can be applied to dry skin. Always talk to your veterinarian about this option.
- When using a heater, ensure that the wiring is out of reach for your pets. Pets should not be left unsupervised with any heating appliances.
- Birds specific – wall heaters in a safe place where the birds cannot get to chew on it or oil heaters can work, but never any gas, bar heaters or form of wood or anthracite burning devices. Keep them out of a drafty area and use blankets or a cover for the cage if necessary. Keep their food dry.
- Too keep warm, cats and other wild animal may hide in your car’s wheel wells or engine. Before you start your car, bang loudly on the hood to wake up a dozing animal and give them a chance to escape.
REPORT NEGLECT – If an owner leaves their pet in the cold, politely let them know you’re concerned. They might not know the risk that cold weather poses. If they respond poorly or continue with their neglect, time to speak up and report it. Please report any animals that are stray, cold and wet to your local SPCA immediately. If you can, please take them to your nearest shelter!
Find your nearest SPCA HERE
BUYING BLANKETS FOR A SHELTER – If you want to help a shelter, please DO NOT buy the budget blankets. They are disposables and have to be hand washed. Shelters do not have the time to hand wash these blankets every day. They are put in a kennel today and as they tear easily, they block the drains and have to be thrown away the next day. Rather buy stormy or fleece blankets.
OUTREACHES – Some groups do outreaches to the rural areas. They make pet bed from dog food bags with blankets or other material inside. The dog food bag helps keep the blanket dry, while still providing softer bedding and offer some protection from the damp and cold ground. Little Paws Big Hearts is one of these organisations.
Next week we will look at how to report a stray animal emergency as well as reporting cruelty to animals.
WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, DO BETTER!