If your dogs or cats spend any time outdoors unsupervised during the winter, please review our winter health tips.
Grooming: A clean fluffy coat is a warm, protective coat. Matted fur and other imperfections that restrict hair from standing straight up are like holes in the armor. They allow cold air to easily reach the skin. In the winter, consider a professional groom even for your outdoor dogs. In addition to bathing, brushing, trimming the fur and trimming the nails, the Groom Room will trim the feet. Trimming the feet prevents snow from creating “rocks” between the pads.
Check under the hood: Cold cats like to sleep under the hoods of warm cars. Consider banging the hood of your car loudly before starting the engine. This can give cats a chance to escape.
Effective Dog and Cat Houses: Sheds usually make poor doghouses. Dog-size doghouses help contain the dog’s body heat. The high roof of a shed lets the heat get too far away from the dog. Where heat and comfort are concerned, the best doghouse is sized more closely to the dog, has a flap on the door, and has bedding. Various retail outlets sell safe and effective electric heating blankets designed for outdoor dog and cat houses. Cats will use houses too if they are provided.
For indoor dogs, restrict outdoor time.
Increase food portions: Maintaining body heat in cold weather requires additional energy. This creates an increased appetite. However, if your pet is already chubby or if your pet spends little time outside, there is no reason to feed more.
Sweaters are good for small and short hair dogs.
Increased need for paw care: Walking in a winter wonderland can leave salt and deicer products on a pet’s paws. They can make paws sensitive and worse yet, dogs and cats will lick and ingest these chemicals to get them off their skin. Check and clean paws frequently if your pet is exposed to salts or other chemicals on the ground.
Garage dogs: Some people let outdoor dogs and cats stay in the garage during the coldest months. If this is you, do not warm up your car in the garage. The carbon monoxide created by an idling car will be bad for a pet’s health, if not fatal.
Dogs get lost easier: The ASPCA reports that more dogs get lost in the winter than in any other season. Snow and ice can cause dogs to lose their scent and reduce their ability to find their way home. Have your dog microchipped and registered. When snow or ice is on the ground, keep IDs on your dog and consider keeping the far roaming dog closer to home.