As temperatures begin to fall in Ireland, hats, scarves, gloves and cosy sweaters quickly come out of their summer retirement. While you’re preparing yourself and your family for the harsh upcoming months, don’t forget about your four-legged family members. Keeping pets warm during a harsh Irish winter is an important – yet often overlooked – step in ensuring their health and safety.
To help you keep your pets warm and cosy this winter, here at Jones Oil we’ve put together this list of helpful tips:
Posh Pooches and Kitty Couture
You may feel silly dressing your dog or cat up in clothing, but on the coldest days of winter, doing so can really help. Most cat breeds have dense fur and don’t need clothes. However, some hairless breeds, such as the Sphinx, get chilled during colder months and would benefit from a sweater.
Dogs with short coats could also benefit from a well-fitting sweater or jacket when the temperatures plummet. Small breeds, like Chihuahuas and Boston Terriers, are especially susceptible to winter’s chill.
Protect those Paws
Most people know that dogs regulate their temperatures through their tongues, but did you know that the soles of their paws also play an important role in temperature regulation? When your dog is outdoors, wearing booties will help protect his paws from frigid snow and ice and help keep him warm. Booties also protect your dog’s pads from ice-melting products and salt. If your dog won’t wear booties, be sure to keep the fur between his pads neatly trimmed to prevent an accumulation of snow and ice, and wipe his paws when he comes inside.
Grooming Goes a Long Way
Keeping your pet neatly groomed is important year-round, but it is especially important during the winter. For obvious reasons, you should avoid shaving or trimming his/her hair, but it is still essential to maintain a good grooming regime. Remove knots and thoroughly brush the coat on a regular basis. Matted fur provides less insulation and is less efficient in protecting your pet from cold rain and snow.
If it’s Too Cold for You, It’s Too Cold for Them
The best solution for keeping your pets warm is keeping them inside during the winter. Dogs should be taken out for frequent walks, but do not leave them outdoors for extended periods of time during frigid weather. Be mindful of the wind chill as well as the actual temperature. No matter the temperature, the wind chill can still cause frostbite and hypothermia. During extreme cold snaps, exposed skin on the nose, paw pads and ears can suffer permanent damage as the result of freezing.
Provide Adequate Outdoor Accommodations
If your pets need to be outdoors for any length of time during the winter, or if you are caring for community cats in your neighbourhood, make sure they have adequate shelter. Both dogs and cats need a dry, windproof shelter with just enough room to sit and lie down. Ideally, the shelter should be raised a few centimetres off the ground, and the floor should be covered with straw. Avoid using cedar shavings as bedding as they can cause skin irritation in dogs and are toxic to cats. Install a plastic flap in the doorway to help block out cold drafts.
Feed Your Pets Appropriately
During the winter, pets expend more energy to stay warm. Even if your dog or cat is primarily kept indoors, you may need to provide a little extra food. For outdoor pets, make sure clean, unfrozen water is available at all times, and never use metal bowls when temperatures dip below freezing. Throughout the year, supplement your pet’s diet with essential fatty acids that cause the coat to grow in a bit thicker.
Provide a Warm Place to Lay
Your pet will enjoy crawling in a warm, comfy bed during the winter just as much as you enjoy getting in your bed at the end of a long day. Place pet beds on platforms at least 7 centimetres above the floor to avoid drafts. If your home is chilly, help your pet stay warm with a hot water bottle or microwavable bed warmer under his bed.
Extra Pampering for Special Needs Pets
Geriatric, young and ill pets require special care during the winter months. They may experience additional difficulty in regulating their temperature, so they need your help to stay warm. Monitor your special needs pets closely, and if they seem cold, provide a sweater, a hot water bottle or other means of warming them up.
Keeping Them Warm and Safe
Using electric heaters, wood stoves or electric blankets to take the chill off is a good way to make your home more comfortable during the winter, but it can also be dangerous. These things should only be used around your pets under close supervision. For your pets’ safety, install barriers to keep them away from hot surfaces, and do not leave electrical cords exposed.
Lots of Love
Nothing warms your pet’s heart like lots of love and affection. Make time to spend with your furry companions to make them feel warm and comfortable this winter. Spending extra time with your pets ensures that you will be able to easily spot any signs that they are feeling a bit chilly, and sharing affection is sure to give you a warm, fuzzy feeling as well.