Does your pet love winter or would they rather cuddle up on the couch under a cozy blanket? Either way, you should be prepared to protect them when they venture out into the elements. Winter care tips for your pet are important to keep them safe this season.
Many pet owners live with the misconception that because their pets have a coat of fur, they can tolerate the cold better than humans. This isn’t necessarily the case. Like us, these fur-coated creatures are used to the warmth of indoor shelter and cold weather can be as hard on them as it is on us humans. Whatever your viewpoint on winter, one thing remains certain: it’s a time when our beloved pets need a little extra care.
Frostbite begins when the pet’s body gets cold. The pet’s ears, paws or tail can get so cold that ice crystals can form in the tissue and damage it. The tricky thing to remember about frostbite is that it’s not immediately obvious. Watch for signs of pale or grey skin; the skin may also turn hard and cold. As frostbitten areas warm, they can be extremely painful.
A second serious winter weather concern is hypothermia. This occurs when a pet spends too much time in the cold, gets wet in cold temperatures or when a pet with poor health or circulation is exposed to cold. In mild cases, the pet will shiver and their ears and feet may grow cold. As hypothermia progresses, they may show signs of depression, lethargy and weakness. As the condition worsens, the muscles will stiffen, heart and breathing rates slow down, and they will not respond to stimuli. Severe hypothermia is life threatening.
Is your pet cold?
If it’s too cold for you to stand at the door without your coat, it’s probably too cold for your pet too, so pay attention to their behavior while outdoors.
If you notice your pet whining, shivering, or appearing anxious, or they stop playing and seem to be looking for places to burrow, then it’s time to bring them in.
No overfeeding please!
Although pets may need an extra layer in winter, make sure it comes from a coat and not a layer of fat. Cold temperatures may even bring on lazy behavior and the need for fewer calories. Be attentive to your dog’s activity level and adjust her calories accordingly. A high-quality, whole food, preferably raw meat-based diet will help ensure a healthy coat and good energy for the cold winter months. If you are noticing your pets energy level being lower, here are some great indoor activities: hide & seek, hiding treats around the house (inside of easter eggs, behind household items), puzzle toys, long lasting chew treats, build your bond (obedience, mini agility, working with a trainer, training books & videos).