Grey skies, hot chocolate, fires, and warm cuddles on the couch; It's beginning to sound a lot like winter!
In winter, we make sure to stay safe and warm to avoid getting sick, and we should also take the same precautions for our four-legged friends. Many people assume that because pets have fur, they're safe from harsh, cold weather. But many pets, such as dogs, in particular, can experience severe problems, such as hypothermia and frostbite if left outside for long periods.
Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce it. It usually occurs when your dog's coat is damp or wet, or when your pets are left outside for prolonged periods.
Signs to look out for:
- Pale skin
- Muscle stiffness
- Shallow breathing
- Dilated pupils
Frostbite occurs when the blood vessels on the skin start to narrow and constrict. In an attempt to maintain body heat in the core areas of the body, the extremities such as the nose, ears, and tail may lack circulation. The combination of the cold and the lack of blood circulation causes the cells to freeze, severely damaging the tissue.
Signs to look out for:
- Discolouration of the skin
- Coldness of the area when touched
- Swelling to the affected areas
- Affected areas that begin to blacken
- Blisters or skin ulcers
- Pain when certain body parts are touched
If you suspect your pet has any of the symptoms listed above, phone your vet immediately!
So, to prevent this from happening to our poor pooches and furbabies, we here at ZUKi want to share some tips on what you can do to keep your pets safe during the winter months.
Research your breed
All dogs are different and require a little extra care depending on their breed. For example, Huskies and Persian cats are more resilient to cold weather, whereas Dobermans would require additional protection. With that in mind, researching your pet's breed will give you a little extra information on the precautions you need to take when the temperature drops.
If you have a big garden and tend to let your dogs and cats outside during the day, make sure to let them stay inside during winter. Your pets will be safer indoors in your warm house than exposed to any environmental harm due to the cold weather. Make sure to accommodate for this by having an indoor litter box for your kitty and a warm, comfy place for your pooch to relax.
Short And Frequent Walks
When the temperature falls below 1.5°C, you should be limiting your pets time outside. For this reason, during winter, it is recommended you take your dog on shorter, but more frequent walks throughout the day. Your dogs need around 20 minutes of exercise each day, but this also will vary depending on their breed. Accommodate for shorter and more frequent walks in your schedule, so your dogs are not exposed to the cold weather for long periods.
As we mentioned before, just because your dog has fur, it doesn't mean they don't feel the cold. Even long-haired dogs and cats might not be resistant to cold weather. With this in mind, we recommend you give your pet an extra layer of protection by getting them a hoodie! There are many options on the market, so make sure it is thick enough to insulate your pets' body heat to minimise their discomfort in the cold.
As your pets will be spending a lot more time indoors, make sure they have a comfy, warm bed to relax. If you notice that your pet's bed is close to a draft, make sure to take the appropriate precautions to ensure that your pet doesn't bear the brunt of the cold. Fill their beds with blankets, and if you still feel your pet is not warm enough, you can even warm up the area with heating pads, portable heaters, and hot water bottles. There are various pet-friendly hot water bottles available in the market that will make your pet feel nice and warm.
Be careful when using heated pads and heaters as these can cause burn injuries if your pet is not supervised!
Even during winter, your pets still need to bath, this will not only make your pets feel happier, but it will also give you peace of mind, knowing that your little furballs are not carrying unpleasant odours. Once you finish bathing your pet, make sure they are totally dry before letting them go back outside. Towel dry your pet as much as you can to remove all the excess water, then use a hairdryer to dry your pet thoroughly. Bathing your pet is not exactly easy, so consider using dry shampoo (pet friendly) to get your pets smelling fresh.
Outdoor dog houses
If you have raised your pet to be an outdoor dog or cat, make sure to provide them with appropriate shelter during winter. Make sure your dog's shelter is dry and free from drafts, raise their house a couple of inches off the floor, and even add a doggy door to the entrance to ensure that their home feels cosy and warm. Be sure to regularly check their bedding and remove any damp blankets or bedding from their little house.
Cats are instinctively attracted to warmth, and so they tend to relax and sleep next to warm car engines. Before leaving your house, honk or tap on the bonnet to scare your cat away before starting the car.
By now, you should have a much better understanding of the dangers and risks of cold weather on your pet's health, so follow our advice and make sure your fur babies have all they need this winter to stay healthy, happy, and warm!