We’ll do anything to keep toasty during the chilly months: hot chocolate, blankets, warming up by the fire – you name it! But what about our pets – how do we keep them warm in the winter?
Despite their fur coats, which act as a layer of warmth and protection, all pets can suffer from the cold. From hypothermia to frostbite, your pets are at risk during the winter.
How can I keep my dog warm?
Dogs and wolves share a common ancestor, hinting towards the wild ancestry of the dog species. Unlike wolves, however, most domesticated dogs are not capable of staying in the cold for long periods of time.
While dogs need their exercise during winter, be sure to keep them warm by:
Spending more time indoors – although most dogs should be walked daily, in the cold, their ears, paws and nose are especially exposed. In the winter, make walks shorter and more frequent if your dog has lots of energy, and play indoors, too. Blue Cross has some good tips for indoor play with your dog to keep them entertained.
Dog coats – get a coat for your dog, which will keep them warmer and provide them with an extra layer. This is particularly important if your dog has a short coat, if they are older or if they are smaller in size.
Bedding – winter beds for your dog should be warm with lots of blankets, raised above the ground to avoid draughts. If your dog sleeps outside and letting them inside isn’t an option, provide proper housing, which is dry with insulation and a sloped roof.
Your dog can’t catch a cold, but if you see similar symptoms, such as a runny nose, coughing and sneezing, consult your vet. Your pet may have caught an infectious disease such as kennel cough.
If your dog can’t stop shivering, whines and becomes slow in movement, also seek veterinary help, as they may be suffering from mild hypothermia.
Keeping cats warm
Cats are independent, and spend much time roaming the streets whatever the weather. But in the cold, many cats will be more than happy to snuggle up and stay warm indoors.
If this is the case, make sure you have an indoor litter tray so that your cat needn’t venture outside. However, if your cats love the great outdoors, keeping them inside might be trickier.
Although the cold isn’t a serious threat to a cat’s health, as they will instinctively find a place of warmth – that place might be dangerous, such as beneath a car. So, make sure you provide the option of a warm shelter in the garden or outside area.
Do rabbits also need to be kept warm in winter?
The answer is yes. Although most pet rabbits live outside in hutches all year round, a drop in weather will affect them, too.
To ensure they’re the warmest they can be, provide extra bedding and reposition their hutch so that it’s out of the wind. This will prevent rain or snow blowing in.
It is also a good idea to invest in some tarpaulin, which you can use to cover your rabbits’ hutch and run, and shelter them from more harsh weather, such as snow, sleet, wind and rain.
You could alternatively move the hutch to an inside area – a porch, shed or garage. If this isn’t possible, simply cover the hutch with a blanket to act as another layer of insulation.
Remember, keeping your pets warm in the cold will ensure their happiness and reduce the chance of illness!