Unless you own a couple of sled dogs, you need to take extra care of your pets in winters. Winter harsh temperatures can lead to problems that range from mere nuisances to life or death situations. Whether you are wondering ‘how cold is too cold to leave your pet outside?’ or ‘whether animals get frostbite or not?’ this guide is for you. Here are some winter dog, cat and bunny care tips for pet owners:
1. Do not leave your dog/cat outdoors
At what temperature should you bring your dog indoors? Experts say that as soon as there is snow, ice or other frosty conditions, brig your pet inside. Your dogs need exercise but there are many ways you can exercise them at home. Also, never leave your cats outside as felines are extremely vulnerable to snow and ice, even more than dogs. So bring your cat and her litter box indoors.
2. Get reflective collars and leashes
If you walk your dog in the evenings, chances are it will be dark outside. So get reflective collars and leashes so your dog is safe and visible all times. You can also invest in a LED collar with flashing lights or reflective vests. Also be very careful when letting your pets run near frozen water bodies. If your pet does fall through thin ice, do not attempt to rescue it yourself. Dial 911 immediately.
3. Cut down the walks
For small breed dogs or dogs with medium to no fur, reduce the walking time as far as possible. This is an important among winter pet safety tips. Harsh weather elements can affect smaller breeds greatly. Try and exercise the pet indoors.
4. Tips for keeping outdoor pets warm in winter
Whether you have a house dog or one that is outside all year round; it is best to bring outdoor pets inside. If not, at least try and keep the dog house warm by layering it up with blankets and placing a safe heater that keeps your pet warm through the night. We have discussed some more tips later in this guide to keep dog house warm and dry.
5. Dry your pet after walk
As soon as you are back after a walk, dry your pet with a towel. Wash your pets’ paws to remove snow, salt and other grime that can cause painful cracks in the paws.
6. Keep anti-freeze liquid away
Cats and dogs love the sweet taste of anti-freeze. But even in tiny amounts, this can be fatal. So store it away and keep it tightly sealed. Mop up spills of this dangerous liquid as soon as they occur. If your pet has ingested some, rush it to your vet immediately.
7. Be careful when starting your car
Many a neighborhood cat (or your own) could be napping in the warm engine or under the car. So be careful when starting it. Also check your shed or garage in case a cat is trapped inside.
8. Be careful with room heaters
Dogs and cats love curling up near room heaters and radiators. However, an important among all winter pet safety tips is to avoid letting the pet stay far too long near the heater. Haters tend to dry up their skin and coat and also cause dehydration in pets. So prevent the pet from lying too close to it. If there is a fireplace, consider covering it with a grille to prevent accidents. A clip-on radiator cradle is a great winter care accessory to invest in for pet owners who have small kittens or cats.
9. Invest in pet winter wear
For all breeds of dogs and cats, invest in good winter wear. This includes boots, sweaters, jackets, water proof parkas, and other accessories that can keep pets warm and dry when outside. For furry animals, do not use sweaters indoors as these could overheat the pets and lead to heat rashes, hot spots etc. Always observe your pet for any signs of discomfort. Boots can keep your pets’ paws healthy and free from salt and other harmful irritants.
10. Invest in a dog bed
A dog bed is the best way to keep your dog warm at night. Look for bed with jute lining which insulates against the cold floor. Do not allow your pet to jump into bed with you. This is harmful for you and can also lead to your pet developing bad habit.
11. Tips for keeping dog house warm in winters
To keep dog house warm in winters, use the following tips:
- Protect your dog against wind chill. Make sure the dog house is draft free and large enough to allow the dog to stand and lie down.
- Cover the floor of the dog house with cedar shavings or straw. Ideally, the floor needs to be elevated a few inches off the floor.
- Keep the entrance and windows of the dog house away from prevailing winds.
- Cover the entrance with a plastic or wooden flap.
- Place a comfortable blanket or dog bed for the pet to sleep upon.
12. Choose best dog food for winter
If your dog is outside all the time in winters, or is particularly very active, you need to feed it a healthy diet with lean protein, fruits and vegetables. Your dog also needs seasonal veggies like carrots for fiber and beta carotene. Talk to your vet about the best dog food for winter. Also feed fresh water and routinely inspect the pet’s drinking bowl to ensure that its water is not frozen.
13. Take extra care of senior dogs
Protect senior dogs from arthritis by using heating pads on their joints. Microwavable heat pads and thermal wraps can also help. Re-evaluate your pets’ pain relief supplements from time to time with your vet.
14. In case of frostbite
Cover up the pet with warm blanket or towel. Feed it plenty of warm broth. Also use warm water bottles to ease the frostbite.
15. Avoid bathing the pet
Do not bathe the pet in harsh winter. If you still wish to, then make sure to dry them up immediately. Never let it outside while its fur is still wet.
16. Spend time with your outdoor bunnies
Even if you have bunnies which are outdoor pets, you must spend time with them. Do not be a stranger to them. Meet them from time to time and cuddle them. Make sure they drink enough water and keep the water from freezing by covering up the bottle with cling wrap or bubble wraps. Protect the outdoor rabbits’ hutches with extra hay or tarpaulin.
Use common sense when using these winter dog care tips. Pay attention to the temperature and time for which your pets are outside. As long as you do not neglect your animals, most should be able to withstand the cold weather just fine.