With winter coming, pet lovers might be concerned about keeping their furry friends warm this festive season. Here are seven ways you can make sure your pets don’t catch a chill.
Warm Tip 1: Beef up Your Pet’s Bedding and Shelters
Have a small furry friend like a rabbit or a guinea pig? Make sure to top up their bedding, provide extra shelter boxes and ensure that their pet runs are covered with appropriate insulation like pet friendly carpet pieces or old bedding, topped off with a bit of tarpaulin to make sure that your insulation isn’t going to move and can’t easily be nibbled. If you have a square metal hutch, you might like to use clear perspex (with air holes drilled in) to keep in the heat while making sure your critters can still look out.
These tip translates to larger pets like cats and dogs. Using cushion pads to keep the heat in your dog’s kennel is one way to ensure your pooch doesn’t get too cold. Using hay and old sheets as extra bedding can also provide added warmth and comfort.
Warm Tip 2: It’s Time to Dress to Impress
Dogs love their walks no matter the season, but if they are going to be going outside in the winter frost they might need a little bit of help to stay warm. This is particularly true for breeds like short-haired greyhounds and smaller dogs who will lose their body heat quickly. A range of pet friendly jackets can be bought at a relatively low cost (if you shop around) to make sure that your canine pals don’t catch a chill.
A cheap alternative that can be just as effective is reusing your pet costumes from Halloween or buying new pet fancy dress clothes online and using those to help keep your dogs (and cats) warm this winter. If you’re (arts and) crafty, you could always make a pet coat, too!
Warm Tip 3: Good Grooming
For those people who are lucky enough to be owned by feline friends, ensuring that your cats stay well groomed in the winter months can help them stay warm. Tangled fur isn’t as good at insulating as a well maintained coat, so making sure your moggy isn’t matted is one way to help her stay happy.
Also, if your cat pal likes to go outside, make sure to keep an eye on her and limit her to short trips as its easy to lose cats in snow.
Warm Tip 4: Consider Moving Your Pets
For rabbits, guinea pigs and rodents who live outside, consider moving their hutches to somewhere warmer. While it won’t always be possible to bring the animal inside the house, a shed or garage can be a good alternative so long as they are provided with adequate insulation.
A word of caution: it can be easy to forget about checking in on your animal friends as regularly as you otherwise might have, but making sure they safe, snug and have access to fresh water — and, importantly, that their water supply hasn’t frozen up — is very important in the winter months.
Warm Tip 5: Don’t Stop Exercising Your Dogs
For dog owners who are concerned about their dogs going out in the cold weather but know that exercise is vital to keeping your canine companion happy, try substituting long walks for frequent smaller ones. This helps your dog get the exercise he needs while ensuring that there’s less chance of him catching a chill.
Giving your dog a rub down with a towel after exercise, especially if there’s snow on the ground, can also help to make sure your dog stays happy. Sticking a hot water bottle under their bedding can also help warm them up when they get home.
Warm Tip 6: Don’t Leave Your Pets in the Car
Every responsible dog owner knows not to leave their dog in the car during hot weather, but winter can be just as dangerous if you leave your pets in your vehicle. On the one hand, a car can quickly become very cold in cold weather.
Obviously, most caring pet owners would leave the heating on for their animal friend, but this also carries the risk of warming the car up and making your dog or cat overheat.
Warm Tip 7: Belly Rubs and Lots of Love
One of the best ways to ensure your pet is staying warm this festive season is to have lots of contact with them. Finding time to be particularly affectionate will mean you spend lots of time with your beloved pets and ensure you can spot any signs that they might be feeling a bit chilly during the winter months. Also, any excuse for a belly rub is probably going to go down well with your animal companions, no matter the season!
There’s also one other important thing to remember: make sure your pets aren’t too warm! With the fire roaring, your heating turned up and your pet houses fully insulated, pets can run the risk of getting a bit too warm — especially if they are wearing some kind of costume or jacket indoors. Look for signs of lethargy and, in a dog’s case, excessive panting to just make sure your pet stays fit and not frazzled this holiday season.
Photo credit: Thinkstock.