Everybody has their preferred methods to stay warm during the freezing temperatures, heavy winds, and snowfall of winter. Some brave the elements and bundle up with their winter coats, hats, and scarves, while others simply turn up the heat and stay inside as much as possible. However, we aren’t the only ones affected by winter … our pets are also impacted by the cold temperatures. As their owners and caretakers, we must do our part to make sure they are warm, safe, and healthy during the colder months. Fortunately, there are several easy ways to keep your pet warm this winter. Read below to learn more!
Keep Your Home Warm
For both yours and your pet’s sake, keep your home warm this winter. There are many ways to heat your home, but two of the most efficient methods are ductless mini splits and radiant heating systems.
Ductless mini split systems are made up of an outdoor unit connected to one or more indoor air conditioners, and they have many benefits over other systems. For example, they operate very efficiently and without waste, which will directly lower your home’s energy bill. They are also very quiet, so they will not startle your pet. They are also available in single and multi-zone systems, which allow you to heat multiple areas in your home without impacting the others.
Radiant heating systems consist of coils or tubes installed under the floors and walls. These coils or tubes use infrared heating to warm the objects in the room, and the heat from the objects is transferred to the room’s occupants. They are also highly efficient and perfect in any situation, but they are perfect for homes with pets. They’ll love lying and relaxing on the heated floor to warm up this winter!
Monitor Your Pet’s Outdoor Time in the Cold
To keep your pet warm and safe this winter, monitor their outdoor time very carefully. During the warmer months, many let their cat or dog outside unsupervised so they can use the bathroom, soak up the son, and roam the yard freely. However, this is not recommended during the winter. Prolonged exposure to the elements and cold temperatures of winter is very harmful for pets, so make sure they are supervised and monitored when outside.
For dogs, monitor their outdoor time by altering their walk schedule. Taking your dog on shorter, more frequent walks instead of longer walks once or twice a day will keep them warmer and limit their time spent outside. If possible, these walks should be during the daytime. It will be slightly warmer when the sun is out, as the wind chills and temperatures are naturally lower at night. Since cats are more independent than dogs, many let them roam freely throughout the yard or neighborhood. However, take caution during the winter and make sure they are not outside too long or straying too far from home.
If you absolutely must leave your cat or dog outside of your home for longer periods of time during the winter, make sure they have a proper outdoor shelter. Many shelters can be purchased online, but you can also build one yourself if you are inclined. There are materials you can use to insulate the shelter, such as straw and Mylar, and you should also install a heater or air conditioner to keep it warm during the coldest of winter days.
This shelter provides them with a warm escape from the cold, but make sure it is properly sized for your pet. An incorrectly sized shelter does not regulate your pet’s body temperature. You should also put food or water near their outdoor shelter, as being properly nourished is key to maintaining a healthy body temperature during the winter.
Many assume that letting their pet’s fur coat grow out for the winter will keep them warmer, but this is actually not the case. The coat helps regulate body temperature, so it must be regularly groomed and maintained to keep your pet warm in the winter. Regular haircuts, brushing, and baths all help keep their coat fresh and prevent any mats or tangles. This is especially important for outdoor pets, as their hair can easily become wet or muddy. Moisturizers and certain shampoos can also prevent dryness, which is a common problem of the winter.
You should also protect your pet’s paws through regular grooming and care during the winter. The constant exposure to snow, ice, salt, and the hard ground can lead to paw damage such as cracked paw pads. Regularly trimming their nails, washing their paws when they come inside, and trimming the fur between the toe pads will help keep their paws safe this winter. You can also put gloves or boots on your pet before going outside, as this is an excellent way to keep them warm and protect them from winter damage.
Sweaters and Blankets
Make sure your pet bundles up this winter! Outfitting your pet with a sweater or providing them with a blanket to lie under is a great way to keep them warm this winter. There are countless options available for purchase online, or you can also knit your own if you are inclined. Not only will your pet feel warm wearing a sweater or nestled under a blanket, but they’ll look so cute too!
To keep your pet warm this winter, consider changing their diet. You should increase the caloric intake of outdoor pets during the winter, as they burn more calories to keep warm in the cold weather. However, be warned that increasing the amount of calories does not mean increasing the amount of food. Since any changes will vary based on factors such as pet size, lifestyle, and breed, consult with a veterinarian for specific dietary needs or suggestions this winter.
With this guide, you’re ready to help keep your pet warm this winter! However, even with these precautions, you still need to keep a close eye on your pet this winter. If you notice any symptoms of winter ailments like frostbite or hypothermia, take them to the vet immediately.