We’ve all seen the memes on social media that show a chilly dog outside with text saying something along the lines of, “If you’re cold, they’re cold! Bring them inside!” It is certainly true that bringing our four-legged friends inside is the best way to keep them warm and comfortable during cold weather, but that isn’t the only way to help your companion stay nice and toasty. Here are a few tips to keep your dog(s) warm during cooler temperatures.
Bring Them Inside
Like we said, bringing your furry friends inside during cold weather is the best way to keep them warm. After all, your pet is a member of your family and shouldn’t be left out in the cold. Just like us, animals can get sick if they are too cold or wet, so bringing them inside is the most humane thing to do. Luckily, there are charts you can find online to let you know how cold is too cold for dogs of various sizes.
Also, keep in mind that many places have laws regarding how long animals can be left outside during cold (or exceptionally hot) weather. Take the time to review your local laws or talk to animal welfare groups in your area to find out what is legal and recommended.
Keep Your Animals Well Fed and Hydrated
Staying warm requires a lot of energy. You may have even noticed yourself eating more during the winter months as your body expends more energy trying to stay warm. Increase your pets’ food rations during cold weather, and make sure there is always plenty of fresh, unfrozen water available. Heated water dishes are sold in feed stores. If your cat or dog seems to be losing weight despite having extra food and water available, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian right away. He may suggest a special diet, or there may be an underlying issue at play.
Provide a Warm Place to Sleep
Your home may have a strict “no animals on the furniture” rule, but you may want to ease up on it during cooler temperatures. Allowing your cat or dog to curl up on the couch will help him or her stay a bit warmer. If you would prefer to keep the fur off your “fur”niture throughout the year, invest in a quality pet bed and place it in an area that is free from drafts. Add a pillow and a soft blanket to create an even cozier spot for your favorite fur baby to lounge in.
Dress Them for the Weather
Putting a sweater on your dog or cat may seem silly or like it’s just a matter of fashion, but doing so can go a long way toward helping certain breeds beat winter’s chill. Small, short-haired breeds like Chihuahuas get cold easily, and so do hairless cats. Dressing them up in sweaters or jackets—especially when going outside—helps them stay warm and can even keep frostbite at bay.
Don’t Leave Pets in the Car
You wouldn’t leave your dog locked in the car on a 90-degree summer day, right? Don’t do it during the winter, either! While everyone knows that a car can be like an oven on a hot summer day, many don’t realize that it can be much like a refrigerator on a cold day. It won’t stay warm for very long once you turn off the engine, and you never know if the engine will stay running if you leave it on. For these reasons, it is much safer to just leave your pets at home instead of risking them freezing to death in your car while you run errands. Trust us, they’d much rather be at home curled up on a nice, comfy bed!
Keep Dogs on their Leashes
Your dog has a great nose, but he can get confused easily when there is snow on the ground. If you are taking your dog for a walk—especially if you are visiting unfamiliar territory—keep him on a leash to prevent him from wandering off, losing his scent, and getting lost.
Even if your dog normally runs around your yard off-leash, keeping him on-leash during the winter is a good idea. If he wanders off while chasing a rabbit or another animal, he is much less likely to be able to find his way back home if there is snow on the ground since it can mask his scent. Keeping him on a leash is much safer and ensures that he will spend the minimum amount of time outdoors.
During the winter months, it is extremely important to take steps to help your fur babies stay warm. Like us, they can get cold when the temperature plummets, and they are more likely to get sick. Even if your pet loves being outdoors, it is best to limit outside time as much as possible during cold weather—especially when the temperature dips below freezing.
If you are unsure of how much time your pet can safely spend outdoors during the winter, or if you are concerned about the best ways to ensure that he or she stays warm, it never hurts to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Your vet can provide tips and solutions based on the weather in your area, as well as on your fur baby’s unique needs.