As we enter the middle of winter, temperatures around the country are dropping, which means your winter staples – hats, coats, gloves, and boots – are always readily available for whenever you decide to leave the house. But what about your pets?
Like humans, pets need protection to keep warm in the winter months. Regardless of how much fur they have, they’re still susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia. So, as much as your pets may love playing in the snow and ice, as a responsible pet parent, you need to be sure you’re offering the protection they need as temperatures drop.
How Cold is Too Cold?
Different factors can impact whether a dog or cat feels “cold” or not, including their size, coat type, weight, age, and overall health. However, in general, most dogs and cats will be okay outdoors until the temperature falls below 45 degrees fahrenheit. Once temperatures drop to 32 degrees fahrenheit and lower, cats and smaller dogs (those under 25 pounds), eldery cats and dogs, and those with preexisting health conditions are advised to stay indoors.
Temperatures that fall below freezing can be hazardous, and significantly increase your pet’s risk for frostbite and hypothermia, especially when exposed to cold outdoor temperatures for over 15 minutes. Try and limit walks with your dog to 15 minutes or less when it’s below freezing, and be sure to keep your outdoor cat indoors to minimize risk.
Signs of frostbite and hypothermia to watch out for include shivering, appearing weak, and generally “slowing down.” If your pets give off any of these warning signs, try your best to get them warm and contact your veterinarian immediately.
Protect Your Pet from Harsh Winter Temperatures
Although the skin on dog’s and cat’s paws are tougher than the skin on human’s feet, they can still get cold. When it gets below freezing, protect your pet’s paws so the temperatures don’t feel as harsh when they venture outdoors.
Dog boots help keep your dog’s toes warm and protected not only from the cold, but also from road salt and deicers, which can irritate their paws. For pups that can’t seem to get used to boots, or for outdoor cats, consider a wax product like Mushers. These balms rub onto your pet’s paws directly, and act as a natural shield against salt, ice, and winter weather.
Coats and jackets not only look adorable, but also act as an insulator for body heat. Bundle up your cat or dog in a warm, fitted jacket before they head outdoors to help them ward off the cold, and buy some extra time before they start to be at risk for hypothermia in freezing temperatures.
You can find dog and cat coats at your local pet store, or (if you’re too cold to venture out!) on Amazon.
Who doesn’t like to curl up in a blanket when it’s chilly outside?! Dogs and cats love to burrow, especially when they’re cold. Gift your pet a warm blanket that they can call their own and keep it near their beds so they can cozy up whenever they’d like.
And, if your cat prefers the outdoors, keep a cat house and blanket by the door so they can seek shelter and stay warm in the winter months.
Remember – just because temperatures are cooler doesn’t mean your dog or cat can’t go outdoors. In fact, it’s still advised to give them regular exercise and take them out to go to the bathroom – just do your best to try and keep them warm while doing so!