Pet in winter

The cold winter weather has arrived! You’ve most probably turned up the heat, but have you stopped to think about how to keep your furry friends safe and comfortable?

Unfortunately, with the dropping temperatures come a whole host of additional hazards for pets. With that in mind, here are PetBucket’s top tips for keeping your feline or canine companions protected throughout the winter season…

1. Keep your pets inside – and keep dog walks short!

It sounds obvious, but if it’s too cold for you to be outside for prolonged periods of time – it’s too cold for your pet, too. It’s sensible therefore to keep your pets inside during the winter months – unless of course, your pet is an outdoor cat.

When it gets cold, it’s common for outdoor cats to try and find shelter and warmth under the hoods of cars. Unfortunately, this can be extremely dangerous for moggies as they can become injured or even killed by the fan belt when the engine is turned on. So during winter, before you get into your car, remember to bang on the car hood or beep the horn to give any outdoor cats a chance to flee to safety.

If your outdoor cat has designated shelter or bedding outside – say in a shed – make sure to keep it in a raised position, off the ground. Colder temperatures will encourage your outdoor cat’s fur to grow quicker, but it’s still advisable to lay down extra bedding to keep kitty as cozy as can be.

Of course, dogs love to be outdoors and on long walks, but unless you’ve got a husky, winter walks need to be short and sweet. Here are some top tips for walking your dog in winter:

  • Keep the hair between your pup’s toes short. If you live in a particularly cold country or area, you may experience snow or ice during the winter months. This is dangerous for dogs as ice can end up gathering on the hair between their toes, making it difficult or even painful for them to walk. It’s advisable therefore to clip this hair to keep the ice at bay, or better still, invest in dog boots for extra paw insulation
  • Wear a coat/sweater. That’s advice for both you and your dog! If your pup has a thin fur coat or is a short-haired breed then you may want to buy a dog coat to keep them warm
  • Stay away from metal lampposts! In fact, this applies to anything that’s metal. Asides from the obvious issue that your canine companions’ tongue will stick and freeze to metal very easily in winter, metal objects also carry the threat of electric shock
  • Steer clear of antifreeze. Antifreeze is a lethal poison for both dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle if the antifreeze you’re using contains ethylene glycol – or better still, buy antifreeze that doesn’t contain EG.

2. Keep an eye on your pets’ water and food bowls

When the temperature goes below freezing, your pets’ water or food bowls can ice over. This can be extremely dangerous as they may end up drinking from other sources such as road-salt or anti-freeze. As mentioned earlier, anti-freeze can kill pets, so make there aren’t any spillages on your driveway or on the street.

If you keep your pet’s food or water bowls outside, make sure to do regular checks to ensure they haven’t frozen over or aren’t covered in ice or snow.

3. Watch for signs of frostbite or hypothermia

Frostbite or hypothermia can be potentially life-threatening for your pet, so it’s really important that you can spot the symptoms early.

Frostbite occurs as a result of exposure to freezing or subfreezing temperatures and can cause serious damage to the tissues of your pet’s extremities, so make sure to always wipe their paws after they’ve been outside and follow the tips and advice in this blog post.

Warning signs of frostbite on dogs include discoloration of the affected area of skin, skin that is cold and painful to the touch, plus swelling or blisters. For cats, frostbitten tissue may appear pale or gray in color. The area will also be cold to the touch.

Hypothermia is an abnormal lowering of the body’s temperature. This is a very severe condition that can cause death.  Warning signs include a very low body temperature (below 37.5), shivering, and unconsciousness. If you’re worried that your precious pet has frostbite or hypothermia, take them to see a vet immediately.

If you think your pet might have a fever, read expert advice on how to figure out if your pet has a fever.

4. Support their joints

The cold weather can wreak havoc on pets’ joints. So if your dog is in his or her twilight years or prone to arthritis, it’s a good idea to provide them with dog joint supplements. Glucosamine and chondroitin are known to help relieve arthritis and joint pain in doggies, as are omega fatty acids. Look for dog food that contains these ingredients, or incorporate dog vitamins or supplements in their diet. Also, having one of the best dog stairs for tall beds or furniture’s can reduce stress on their joints.

Similarly, if you have an older cat, or if your cat has arthritis, the cold weather is likely to make their joints extra stiff and painful, so it’s sensible to invest in cat joint supplements. Your moggy may also find jumping or climbing more difficult if her joints are stiff and uncomfortable, so make sure that her favorite sleeping places, her food and water bowls, and her toys are easily accessible.

5. Protect your pets with parasite preventatives

When the temperature starts to drop, troublesome parasites such as fleas and ticks seek refuge in warm, cozy places indoors. This puts your pets and your home at risk, so it’s sensible to invest in year-round protection.

Bravecto is the first FDA-approved treatment that offers a staggering 12 weeks protection against fleas and ticks! Better still, it comes in a range of treatments, from Bravecto for dogs pork-flavored chews, to easy-to-apply topicals for felines and canines.