As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, it’s important that we adjust the care of our pets to accommodate for the change in weather and length of the days. Some pets enjoy the snow and winter months, while others prefer to be curled up next to a warm fireplace in a cozy pet bed. Whatever your dog or cat prefers, here are some winter pet care tips to keep them at their best all season long!
- Adjust Their Diet
Some dogs love to play in the snow, while some take the winter months as a chance to hibernate as much as possible. Cats often prefer the indoors and tend to get a bit lazier this time as well. And barn cats that live outside need more calories and fat to keep them warm. Make sure that if your dog or cat is highly active and spends a lot of time outside, to increase his food and calorie intake to make up for the colder temperatures. On the converse, if your cat or dog tends to prefer to cozy up by the fire, you may need to decrease their food to keep them from packing on the pounds.
- Bring Them Inside
We know that in rural areas, there are many working dogs and barn cats that spend their lifetime outside, but when the mercury dips below freezing, it becomes even more important that they are able to come inside. Whether it’s to a garage, a tack room, or in the house, making sure your dog or cat has shelter that is both warm and dry with an adequate supply of food and fresh water is incredibly important.
- Pet Clothing Helps
More than just a fad, pet clothing for dogs, and even some cats, is a great way to keep them happy and comfortable in winter. Thinner skinned dogs such as Jack Russells tend to enjoy outdoor activity year-round, however a dog coat or sweater makes it much safer for them to participate. And even some cats (especially the hairless ones) may need the help of a sweater indoors if it’s chilly. And for dogs, protecting the paws if you’re going to be outside in the snow or ice will help keep them from getting frostbite or injured.
- Beware of Deicers
When winter precipitation happens, many people use commercial deicers that can be purchased at supermarkets and hardware stores to improve driveway and sidewalk conditions. However, many of these can be toxic to your pet. Even preventing them from licking at them, doesn’t prevent it from irritating their feet and toes, or worse – from them licking it off their paws when they come inside, accidentally ingesting the toxins. Make sure whatever deicers you use are pet-safe (we love Safe Paw), and if you’re walking your dog in the streets, again doggie booties are a must!
- Car Safety
Car safety is one of the most important winter pet care tips. In the winter, stray cats can curl up near car engines for warmth, so make sure to bang on your hood before starting the engine to alert any cats that may have taken up shelter. Also, similarly to heat in summer, in the winter, vehicles can get extremely cold extremely quickly, so make sure to leave your pets at home if you are going anywhere where they may need to stay in the car.
- Take Care of Dry Skin
Just like humans, when it gets cold and raw out, our skin can get very dry and the same goes for your dog or cat. Using a humidifier, providing lots of drinking water, and even considering a skin supplement all can help your pet from getting a case of the flaky, dry skin itches. And no one wants to end up in a cone for Christmas!
If you loved our winter pet care tips, you can read even more at the Trupanion website’s winter pet safety tips. Be safe, and enjoy this winter with your cat or dog!