If it’s too cold outside for you then it’s probably too cold for your pets! Making sure your pets are warm enough in the cold weather is vital for their overall health and comfort.
In this article, we discuss the signs that will alert you to your pet being too cold, the steps that you should be taking to keep them warm and our top safety tips to make sure they are safe.
What Are the Signs That Your Pet Is Cold?
#1. The Weather
If it’s too cold for you outside then your pets will feel the same. Just because they have fur doesn’t mean that they don’t feel the cold.
Keep an eye on the weather forecast and make sure you prepare for the cold weather coming. If you know that we are expecting cold weather at night then make sure you bring your pets inside earlier during the day.
#2. Their Ears are Cold
We all get a bit cold from time to time, but your pets ears shouldn’t be freezing cold when you touch them. This is a definite sign they are too cold.
If their body is cold too then it’s too cold outside for them. If they are inside pets and they still feel cold to the touch it may be that you need to consider clothing or extra bedding for them. Short haired breeds will often feel the cold more than long-haired breeds.
#3. They are Shivering
Much like we shiver when we are cold our pets will too. This is a sure sign that it’s time to bring them in out of the cold.
Shivering is one of the early signs of Hypothermia.
#4. They are Curling up to Keep Warm
Animals tend to curl up when they sleep, but if they are curling up very tightly to keep warm then it’s time to bring them in.
#5. Lethargic/Slow Moving
When your pets are too cold they will be very lethargic and slow moving as they clearly don’t want to be outside. You may find them reluctant to go back outside after being inside.
Watch for a change in the behaviour of your pets once the cold weather starts and if they are acting differently to normal it may because they are cold.
The Dangers of Hypothermia
If your pet gets too cold, then they could suffer from Hypothermia. Hypothermia can be fatal, but early signs can often go unnoticed. If your pet is too cold then they will shiver and feel cold to the touch. It’s unlikely if your pet is indoor that they will suffer from Hypothermia unless the house is very cold and they have been left wet after a bath or not dried after a walk.
Make sure when you take your dog out for a walk that you dry them off and remove any ice or snow. If your cat comes in and is wet then dry them off and keep them warm.
If your pet is suffering from severe Hypothermia than they will be lethargic, will be disinterested in their normal activities and appear depressed.
Often people assume that because their pets have a fur coat they don’t feel the cold. However, It’s important that you don’t let things get to this stage and keep an eye on your pet.
How Should You Keep Your Pets Warm?
#1. Bring Your Pets In
The easiest way to ensure your pet is warm over the winter months is to bring them into the house. Your pets will love the warmth of the house. If you don’t want them to have full access to the house then create a space in the home that they can call their own. Maybe in a utility room or dining area.
#2. Extra Bedding
Just like we bring out the thicker duvet and extra blankets in the winter months then you probably need to do the same for your pets.
They might like an extra blanket or a warm bed when the cold sets in.
Some dogs wouldn’t dream of wearing a coat or a jumper, but others love being snug and warm in the latest fleece coat. For smaller or short-haired breeds it can be a necessity for them in the colder months.
If you are introducing clothing to your dog, then it’s advisable to try them out with it for short periods of time when they are not alone. Let them get used to it and if you feel they are not stressed by it then it might work well for them during the winter months.
During the very cold months, heated beds or blankets are a great addition for any pet. Much like we love our heated blankets your pets will appreciate the extra warmth.
If you are out at work, you may want to consider leaving the heating on low during the day if your house gets very cold. Or alternatively, use a timer to turn the heating on and off at certain times of the day.
#5. Crying or Whining
If you notice your pets crying or whining, or even scratching at the door, then they are probably letting you know that they are too cold.
Usually, a change in the behaviour of your pets is a sign that something is wrong. If you are concerned, then always take them to the vet.
Top Safety Tips for Pet Owners This Winter
#1. Beware of Antifreeze
Antifreeze is toxic to pets. It’s a very sweet tasting substance which is attractive to animals, who will lick it or even drink it.
Make sure that if you spill any that you clean it up and keep any away from your pets. If you do suspect that your pets have ingested any then please take them straight to the vets.
Note – take notice on walks if your dog is sniffing or licking at driveways or paths as there may be split antifreeze.
#2. Avoid Ice
Be very aware of any frozen pond, lakes or areas of water. If you are taking your dog out for a walk and they are normally used to playing in the water, make sure you keep them on the lead.
Frozen water can be very dangerous if it cracks under the weight of your dog, so it’s best to keep away from these areas.
#3. Protect your Pets Paws
Salt added to the roads and pavements can irritate your pet’s paws so it’s advisable to wash their paws when you come in from your walk and then dry them.
If your dog has a lot of hair between their paws, then it can be a good idea to trim it to avoid a build-up of ice. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself then ask your groomer.
Dog boots can be helpful if your dogs are sensitive – although it might take a while for them to get used to them. Or you could put petroleum jelly on their paws to create a protective barrier.
#4. Be Careful Near Heaters and Open Fires
If your pets are feeling the cold they often try to get a little bit too close to the fire or heater. If your pets are getting too close to an open fire they are at risk of being burnt by sparks from the fire. It’s always advisable to have a guard in front of a real fire – just like you would if you have children.
Electric heaters can also be dangerous if they get knocked over or your pet gets burnt on them.
#5. Don’t Overfeed Your Pets
It’s probably worth consulting with your vet if you are thinking of increasing your pet’s food during the winter. Unless they are doing additional walks or activity it’s not really advised to increase their food.
In fact, you may find that your pets are more lethargic during the summer and don’t burn as many calories.
#6. Be Mindful of Older Pets
If you have a senior pet then it’s important to keep an eye on them during the cold weather. If they suffer from arthritis then it could flare up during the cold, so it’s important to make sure they are getting regular exercise and taking any supplements.
If you are taking your dog for a walk in the icy weather then take care that they don’t slip and injure themselves.
#7. Keep an Eye on Water Bowls
If your pets have water bowls outside, then make sure that they don’t freeze over. When the temperature drops they can freeze over very quickly, especially at night.
Inside water bowls shouldn’t freeze.
#8. Maintain Visibility
There are lots of things you can do to keep you and your pets visible on walks.
High visibility jackets for yourself
If you are out with your dog late at night then it’s important that people can see you on the road. High vis jackets should be worn by anyone walking at night – with or without a dog.
High visibility coat for your dog
A high vis coat for your dog will keep them visible late at night on your walks. If they did get off the lead you would be able to see them a lot easier if they have a reflective coat on.
Reflective collars for cats and dogs
The more reflective items you have on your pets the better. For cats it can be vital for them to be seen by cars.
Reflective leads for dogs
Again, the more you can do to keep your dog visible on your walks the better.
#9. Always Keep Your Dog On The Lead
During cold/bad weather it is always best to keep your dog on the lead in order to keep them safe. Snow may have build up and be a hazard to them or they may be tempted to walk on frozen lakes or ponds.
#10 . Collar, ID and Microchip
It is important to ensure your pets microchip is up to date with your address and contact details, and that their collar has an ID tag on with contact details.
Are Your Pets Safe During the Cold Weather?
It’s important that you and your pets stay warm. Your pets will be perfectly safe during the cold weather if you adopt some of the suggestions listed in this article.
However, if you have any concerns about the health of your pet then always visit your vet.