As the temperature drops, many individuals rely on running heaters, wearing thicker clothing and bringing out winter coats. But humans are not the only ones affected by the cold weather. Animals, particularly cats and dogs, also require precautionary measures to remain safe. Here are eight ways to protect your pet from the cold:
1. Visit Your Veterinarian
Before the onset of cold weather, take your cat or dog to the vet. Cold weather can exacerbate certain illnesses, so even if your pet does not have any chronic condition, a veterinary check-up should be arranged annually. A check-up before winter is advisable to ensure your cat or dog is prepared for winter.
2. Know Their Limits
Resilience to cold weather varies among breeds, fur-length, body fat, level of activity, and general health of cats and dogs. Hence, it is advisable to know in advance how resistant your pet is to the cold weather, so that you may take the necessary precautions. For example, you might shorten your dog’s walks duration during the winter and not expose very old dogs to icy or snowy weather where they may slip and fall. Cats or dogs with long hair or thick skin are more likely to be tolerant of the cold. Conversely, short-haired cats and dogs may experience cold weather faster. Short-legged cats or dogs are more susceptible to the cold because of their proximity to the ground. Cats or dogs with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances face greater difficulty in regulating their body temperatures.
3. Change Your Pet’s Sleeping Area
If you feel that the place your cat or dog is sleeping exposes them to the cold, move it to a new location that caters to their requirements.
4. Stay Indoors
Cats and dogs are said to be more resilient to cold, but this statement may not be true. Frostbite, hypothermia, and other health concerns inherent to humans exist for cats and dogs in cold weather. Thus, in cold weather, they should be kept indoors. While colder temperatures may be tolerable for some breeds, no pet should ever be left outside in freezing weather.
5. Check Their Paws
Cold weather can harm your dog’s paws when you take them out for a walk. Issues such as freezing, burning, and bleeding may arise as a result of cold weather. Regular paw checks can help prevent such occurrences. On an icy day, you may want to cut the hair between your dog’s nails to prevent ice from forming between the paws.
6. Dress Them Up
If your dog or cat appears to be cold, consider dressing them up. Keep a set of dry clothes handy for your dog so that you can replace wet clothing after you come back indoors.
7. Be Mindful of Chemicals
During the winter, chemicals like antifreeze water, defroster or salt can pose substantial health risks to pets out for a walk. Your cat or dog might ingest residual chemicals on their fur and with harmful results. After walking in the winter, wipe or wash your pet’s fur that may have been in contact with surfaces treated with these chemicals to eliminate such risks.
8. Pay Attention to Their Nutrition
During the cold winter months, keeping your cat or dog at a healthy weight is critical. Although some owners believe that carrying some extra pounds will protect their pets better from the cold, it is not advisable. Being overweight comes with inherent health concerns, so before winter months, inquire with your veterinarian about the food requirement of your cat or dog.
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