Most animals will find a way to stay warm or stay out of the cold completely. Inside pets don’t have a problem with the cold weather, but outside pets require a bit more care. It’s up to you to make sure they stay safe during the winter. Here are 9 tips on keeping your outside pet safe from the cold weather. I wrote most of these tips with dogs and cats in mind!
9 Provide a Wind Break
Photo Credit: ArtFromM(elia)
It’s amazing at how much warmth can be gained by simply blocking the wind. Pet houses provide dogs and cats with a place to hide from the wind. There are plenty of fancy versions that have heating systems in them as well, but these aren’t commonly purchased by the general public. As long as the wind is blocked, most animals are able to generate plenty of body heat to keep themselves warm, thanks to their fur.
8 Give Warm Blankets
Photo Credit: mak805
Lining a pet house with a piece of fleece, some old blankets or towels can be the little addition necessary for making your pet more comfortable during cold weather. I have multiple cats, which tend to huddle together in a pile when it’s cold outside. Even though I know they do well to keep each other warm, giving them a blanket to pile on top of keeps the cold at bay for those on the outside sections of the cat pile.
7 Make Sure There is a Dry Place to Lie down
Photo Credit: chris1h1
Water causes the body to lose heat 25 percent faster than when it is dry. A soggy animal is rarely a happy one, unless you are talking about a Labrador who is fetching tennis balls out of the water. Give your pet a dry bed or section of the garage to snuggle up in. Also make sure that the pet house isn’t a leaky one.
6 Check on Regularly
Photo Credit: baalands
Frostbite can happen very quickly, so checking on your outside pet regularly can eliminate the chance of this occurring. You can also check for signs of shivering or sneezing and make your pet more comfortable by providing some additional warmth. It’s amazing at how much heat can be provided by a small heat lamp used for brooding chicks. Just be sure to place the lamp high enough that it doesn’t set your pet’s fur on fire.
5 Keep Pets Groomed
Photo Credit: Tancread
A well-groomed coat will help your pet to keep warm. Fur with matted chunks and cockleburs is like wearing a sweater with holes in it. Be sure you don’t shear an outside dog too close to winter time, since this won’t allow the dog enough time to grow an adequate coat back. If winter creeps up on you sooner than you expected, it might be best to keep your pet in an enclosed area until he can grow his coat out to its fullest length.
4 Give a Heated Bed to Those Who Need It
Photo Credit: sandraen
Elderly animals need a bit of help to keep warm, no matter how long their fur is or how fancy their pet house is. Heated beds come in many varieties and in quite a few different price ranges. Using a heating pad that is meant for a human doesn’t work as well, since many are equipped to shut off after a certain amount of time and the heat can be too intense for an animal to stand. This means your pet has an increased chance of being left without a heat source during the coldest part of the night or being burned when a heating pad meant for humans is used instead of a pet heating pad.
3 Check Your Vehicle before Starting
Photo Credit: imagetaker!
Cats are notorious for hiding in cars that have recently been driven, especially during cold weather. To a cat, there’s not better place than under the hood where a warm engine provides plenty of comfortable heat. It’s always a good idea to do a few things before starting your vehicle in the winter or any time of the year for that matter; slam the car doors and wait a few moments, honk the horn, and/or lift the hood and check for any hidden cats. A combination of any of these will usually scare the cat from its hiding place. I find honking the horn tends to work every time and it generally deters cats from wanting to hide under the hood later on. Talk about a rude awakening!
2 Invest in a Sweater if Need Be
Photo Credit: Howard O. Young
Plenty of pet stores offer many sizes of sweaters and coats for all sizes of dogs. I have yet to find a cat that enjoyed wearing a sweater, but most dogs don’t seem to mind, especially the short-haired breeds. Patterns for making a dog sweater at home are available all over the Internet as well. This might be a cheaper way to keep your dog warm, since specialty clothing for animals is often fairly pricey.
1 Increase Food Supply
Photo Credit: barbara-at-Nutro
You might need to give your outside pets a bit more food than usual during the colder days of the season. Their bodies are working harder to stay warm, so they will use a lot more calories to do so. It’s the same with people. It also helps to add a bit more fat to their diet as well. Don’t try to over-feed your outdoor pets to the extent of making them obese. If you notice your pet becoming a bit on the heavy side, then try lessening the extra food you provide.
I’m sure these 9 tips on keeping your outside pet safe from the cold are common sense for most people. I try to make sure my pets are as comfortable as I am on cold days, but I also have to remember that they are wearing fur coats all the time too. Do you have any cold weather tips for animals that you’d like to pass on? Is there anything special you do for your pets during the colder months?
Top Photo Credit: Bond Girly