By Susan Paretts
When the chill of winter comes around, you’ll want your pet to stay warm and cozy, even when you’re stepping out. Fortunately, with some weather-appropriate clothing, safety precautions, and other strategies, your four-legged friend will be ready to face the frosty temperatures.
Dress for Success
Before heading outside, dress your pet for the cold, especially if you plan on staying out for more than a few minutes, recommends Darlene Richard, a licensed veterinary technician in Las Vegas, Nevada. “While a quick trip outside probably won’t require any special preparations, if you plan on spending extended periods of time outdoors in the sleet and snow, put on some insulated dog booties,” she recommends. The canine footwear will keep your pooch from getting frostbite on his sensitive paw pads.
A warm sweater will help keep your pet warm during longer jaunts outside, especially for older pets, puppies and those with thin coats. You can even purchase waterproof clothing like pet raincoats to keep your four-legged friend warm and dry in the wet, slushy snow.
Moisturize Inside and Out
Winter is one of the least humid seasons of the year and the weather can dry out your pet’s skin and coat. Judy Morgan, DVM, of the Clayton Veterinary Associates in Clayton, New Jersey and the Naturally Healthy Pets website notes the forced-air heat indoors can also cause dryness. She recommends using a humidifier indoors to keep your pet’s skin moisturized and supplementing its diet with organic coconut oil or fish oil. “Coconut oil can also be rubbed into any irritated areas on the skin. It has antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties,” Morgan says. “Omega 3 fatty acids from fish oil are also helpful, as they decrease inflammation and increase moisture.”
Feed and Hydrate for Chilly Days
If you are spending any time outdoors with your pet, you’ll need to provide it with a heated water dish so that its drink doesn’t freeze.
Ken Tudor, DVM of the Well Dog Place in Claremont, California and the Hearthstone Homemade website warns that pets can become dehydrated in the cold. “Dogs don’t eat ice and snow to hydrate themselves when outdoors and can quickly become dehydrated from shivering in the cold,” he said.
Depending on how active your outdoor pet is, you may need to increase your furry buddy’s food portions. Dr. Tudor recommends feeding your dog more during the winter months if your pet is very active because the cold weather can increase its calorie needs. On the other hand, indoor pets who are less active in winter may need less food.
Groom Your Pet for the Weather
When you’re out for walks, snow and iceballs can get stuck in the hair between your pet’s toes, causing irritation. Trim the extra fur between the toes away with the ConairPRO Dog™ Palm Pro™ Micro-Trimmer to prevent this from happening.
After a trip outdoors, always wipe your furry friend’s feet and tummy with a damp towel to remove any potentially harmful chemicals like salt, de-icers or antifreeze. Try to avoid bathing your dog or cat as frequently as you would in warmer weather, because bathing too often can dry out its skin. Instead, use a dry shampoo like ConairPRO Dog™ Argan Oil Waterless Shampoo, which contains moisturizing Moroccan argan oil.
Stay Safe While Outdoors
When walking your dog outside, always keep them on a leash to prevent them from stepping on any frozen bodies of water. The ice could be very thin and your pet could fall through it, warns Dr. Tudor.
When out running errands in wintertime, never leave your dog alone in a car as the temperatures inside the vehicle can quickly dip to unsafe levels. Also, when it’s below freezing outside, it’s best to keep pets indoors because they’re susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia in extreme temperatures.
Being out-and-about with your pet gets a little trickier in the winter. But with a few changes to your normal routine, both of you can enjoy the outdoors during the chilly months of the year. So go out and face the snow together and have some winter-safe fun.