They grow into our homes, our hearts, and our lives so very fast! Of course, they're our kids! And whether they're busy digging a hole in the backyard, getting into the garbage, or yowling at 3 am, we still love them.
Our pets are our furry babies, and we love them as much as any other member of our families. While their fur does an excellent job of keeping our animals cool in the summer and warm in the winter, it's not quite as effective against extreme temperatures. Now that summer's extreme temps have faded into cool days, and even cooler temps are on the way, it's essential to keep them warm.
Just like we get cold, our pets do, too. Cats and dogs may even experience increased discomfort as the temperatures drop due to aging and current ailments. But there's good news! There are plenty of ways of keeping your pets warm as winter comes!
Claws and Effect: Top Weather Concerns for Our Pets
Most of our dogs and cats are covered with fur, except for a few breeds. Speaking of, some species are better suited for the cold more naturally than others too. But whether or not a breed is known for different limits on hot or cold, each pet should be considered individually. There are many various factors that go into whether or not your pet has tolerance for colder weather. Things to consider are:
• Their coat or fur. Some breeds have little to no fur, and others have thick undercoats and thick fur.
• Their age.
• How much body fat your pet has.
• How active your pet is
• How healthy, overall, your pet is.
If your pet is somepawdy who is very young or elderly, if your furbaby is very small, short-haired, of a hairless variety or has a chronic disease (like heart disease, Cushing's disease, arthritis or kidney disease), or if your pet has special needs they will be less cold tolerant and will more than likely experience issues.
Im-paw-tent Weather Concerns to Watch For
Hypothermia can happen to our pets when they are exposed to extreme cold for an extended period of time or if their fur and skin are wet or get wet when in this extreme cold. The signs to look out for with your pet for hypothermia are:
• Pale or gray gums
• Cold feet, cold tails, and cold ears
• Stumbling or lack of coordination
• Fixed and dilated pupils
• Low heart and breathing rates
In extreme cases, many pet shivering will stop, and lethargy will begin. Many dogs or cats will stop shivering and curl up to keep themselves warm, which can progress into a comatose state, so understanding the signs of hypothermia is very important to prevent it! If you suspect your pet has hypothermia, consult your vet immediately while rewarming your kitty or pup up in warm blankets, placing a hot water bottle in a wrapped towel against their abdomen to keep their core warming up.
Frostbite freezes then kill skin cells. Frostbite on our pets will commonly occur on dogs' and cats' paws, nose, ear tips, and tail after exposure to extreme cold conditions. The skin of these areas may become visibly pale, bluish, white, or gray and feel much colder and firmer than the surrounding skin to the touch. Immediately veterinary care is needed as soon as possible if you suspect your furbabies have frostbite. In the meantime, experts say that you can warm the frostbitten areas by wrapping them in warm, moist towels and changing them frequently to keep them warm. Make sure the temperature is warm, not hot, so you don't accidentally burn the skin. As circulation returns, you should see these areas begin to redden and regain color.
Surprisingly, as well with the cold weather concerns, there's a chance your pet could come in contact with substances that are poisonous or could cause toxicity issues. Frequently seen by veterinarians in cold climates are irritated skin on the footpads due to heavy salting and ice-melting products used on sidewalks, roadways, and walkways. Additionally, many vets say that antifreeze toxicity is one of the biggest health risks during this time of year, after the cold weather. It only takes a few drops of antifreeze to cause irrevocable damage to a small dog or cat. So be very mindful this winter of where all your household chemicals are. Keep your pets under a careful eye near any space where cars or vehicles are too.
How to Keep Your Pets Warm
This winter, consider a few of these fantastic ideas or steps to keep your furbabies protected and warm!
• Protect their delicate paws from frostbite and toxicity with specially designed paw booties or shoes. These pet shoes can keep the cold away from delicate pawpads and keep their feet from coming into contact with harsh salts and even antifreeze. Just carry a small towel and make sure to wipe their feet as needed, and rinse the booties or shoes when you return home.
• For in-door pets, or pets that mostly stay inside and go outside for potty breaks, consider purchasing pet coats or coverings to go along with their booties. For pets with quick potty sessions, you can also get them a cozy and soft pet flapjack onesie! The perfect amount of warmth for inside and out on those clear days where the temps are chilly. Many veterinarians recommend sweaters or winter warming clothing for smaller dogs and hairless breeds of animals even inside to keep them warm and comfy.
• Believe it or not, proper grooming of your dog or cat is a large part of keeping them warm, safe, and healthy in the cold weather. Please do your best to avoid shaving thicker-coated breeds, as keeping a thicker and longer coat on dogs in the winter can keep them warmer on cold days. Longer hair or fur can also assist in minimizing irritation from salt on sidewalks.
• Keep them indoors with you and your family.
Remember, if you go outside all bundled up and are still cold? It's way too cold for your furbabies to be out for very long!
We hope this helps you and your fur-ever family keep warm and safe this winter!