When temperatures drop sharply and the cold resurfaces, just like us, our animals can also suffer from the chill. Here are some tips to help your pet this winter!
Whether you have a cat or a dog, their resistance to the cold depends on their breed. Breeds with long and dense hair or certain breeds from cold regions are usually much more resistant to the cold than miniature size or short-haired pets.
Your lifestyle is also important to take into account: a dog or a cat which is used to spending time outdoors will be able to withstand the cold better than an animal living in an overheated apartment.
Other factors such as age and health are important too. A skinny dog or cat will suffer more from the cold than an animal that has a normal weight because of the low quantity of body fat. Be careful though, that doesn't mean that overweight pets are more resistant to the cold. They actually feel even chillier, due to decreased circulation.
Note that your pet will struggle more with the damp cold as they lose their body heat quicker. When it's windy, be sure to shorten your walks with your pooch. You can also chose to protect him/her with a coat.
Of course, if your pet is used to spending all of their time outside, make sure that they can protect themselves in a kennel or a cozy shelter that you have specially arranged. It should not be too large to ensure better insulation.
Our feline friends are more resistant than they seem. Being independent, they will typically come home as soon as they need to get warm again. Their coat also changes with the seasons, meaning they will develop a winter coat to protect them when it begins to get cold. However, this doesn't make them immune to freezing temperatures.
If you have an outside cat, installing a cat flap is the best way to let them live their independent lives and decide for themselves when they can come and go. Especially if you're not home during the day. A warm house to come home to will be their safety net when they need it.
If you have any doubts about the hardiness of your pet, consult your veterinarian who will run a complete checkup and give you advice more tailored to their needs.
Beware of frostbite
In case of prolonged exposure to the cold, your pet could suffer from frostbite at the end of the ears, the tip of the tail and paws.
It is important to treat them as quickly as possible: in worse cases, due to the decrease of blood, the affected area can eventually become necrotic and even fall off.
You can detect the presence of frostbite by searching for cold, inflamed, red, white or grey skin and peeling or falling dead skin.
In case of frostbite do not rub or massage! Even if you think you’ll do well trying to activate blood circulation, it can damage the tissue. If it is on their ears, apply a warm compress on it. If it is on the tail or the paws, soak the area in a bowl of warm water. As soon as the skin becomes red, stop and dry. Then cover the area with a clean, dry piece of tissue that does not stick.
If you think the frostbite is severe, or the skin turns white, go to the vet immediately.
In order to prevent it, just dry your pet’s paws after returning from walks. Pay particular attention to the area between their pads. This will protect them, not only from frostbite, but also from cracking and other injuries. You can also buy your pet little shoes, or use tanning lotions that make the pads more resistant, more flexible and waterproof.
Make sure that your pet does not eat the salt laid on the road which is toxic and can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal spasms and intense thirst.
Be aware that cats and dogs drink more in the winter, and along with the heating in your home, be sure to provide a bowl of fresh water.
Ice can cause accidents
Most of the time, pets don’t like to go out on cold days, like humans! However, once the sun returns, they can’t wait to run outside!
But it is recommended to keep your dog or cat inside for a few more days (if you are in a country where snow and ice is common). The risk of falls and injuries are high because of the ice covering the streets.
In addition to regular brushing, you can add fatty acids to your pet’s food that will help their fur become denser. For cats and small dogs, add half a tablespoon of unheated corn oil or olive oil to the food. Add a tablespoon of the oil for medium and large dogs.
It is advisable not to groom your dog just before winter as their coat could actually become less resistant to the cold.
With all of these valuable tips, we are sure that you and your furry friend can get through the winter with confidence!
How do you keep your pet warm in the winter?