Winter Weather Preparedness Week started on October 20th. It’s a reminder that cold temperatures and snow are on their way. While that means special preparations for humans (like making sure your car has tire chains in the trunk and cleaning out your house’s gutters), pets need special preparations, too!
Cold weather isn’t fun for domestic animals. In order to help make sure they stay warm, healthy and happy this winter, follow these five ways of preparing them for the cold weather that’s coming.
1. A Warm Place to Sleep
While many pet owners keep their animals inside their homes, many more have outdoor dogs and cats. While a doghouse with a blanket might be fine for your puppy during the summer, the winter will require a few extra steps.
First off, make sure that the door of your pet’s house faces away from the prevailing wind. For example, it’s probably a good idea to have your pet house’s door facing the wall of your own home. Next, find a way to raise the pet house several inches off the ground. This can be accomplished with paving stones or wood beams from your nearest home and garden store. By keeping your pet house away from the frozen ground, it will stay much warmer.
It’s also a good idea to layer the bottom of your pet house with straw or cedar shavings for added insulation. As a last step, make sure the door of the pet house has a thick, strong flap in order to keep the cold out and the warmth in.
2. Adequate Food and Water
When temperatures drop, animals need more energy to stay warm. This means that you will probably need to increase the amount of food you’re giving your pets as they start burning more calories. You will also need to take precautions to keep the food secure. Colder temperatures mean that wild animals like raccoons will have less easily accessible food and will be working harder to get your pet’s!
Pets can still get dehydrated during the winter months, so make sure to check water bowls frequently to see that they are not iced over. It’s also a good idea to skip metal bowls, as these can freeze and cause a pet’s warm tongue to stick!
3. Consider Pet Clothes
While some people might find the idea of clothes for your pet to be ridiculous, give them a chance. For small dogs especially, cold temperatures can make it tough to stay warm on walks. A dog sweater can keep your pet snug and warm on all of your journeys outside.
Dogs of any size might want to consider pet shoes, too. Freezing weather in many cities means that salt will be laid down on roads and sidewalks. Combined with freezing snow and ice, these can both irritate sensitive paws. Get some pet shoes, and your dog’s feet will still feel great after long winter walks!
4. Watch Out for Hiding Cats
Outdoor cats will do almost anything to find the warmest place to snuggle up for a nap. Even when provided with a well-insulated pet house, some cats will forego the space you’ve provided for the comfort of a warmer engine!
That’s right – soon after parking your car, cats will sometimes wiggle their way up under the front of your car in order to soak up the heat of your turned-off engine. When you’re ready to leave again, cats might still be napping up inside.
In order to keep these sleeping kitties safe, make sure to bang on your hood a few times or to honk your horn before starting up the engine. This will usually tell your cats that it’s time to move before you head off down the road.
Have a great winter with your pets!