It is essential to provide winter shelter. Proper housing should provide warm, dry, and clean bedding. Your pet should have shelter from strong winds and a waterproof roof large enough to stand up and turn inside. A platform of four to six inches is a good idea for your dog’s bed. In the unlikely event of water entering the dog house, this will keep your pet dry. Some dog houses use heated pet mats or electric space heaters, but they can cause fires or electrical burns. It would help if you inspected your dog’s shelter from time to time to ensure there were no leaks. You don’t want your dog to be sleeping on a dirty dog bed. Even if your dog is indoors during winter, a platform will protect his bed from the cold and keep it off the ground. Heating dog beds are also available. They are ideal for elderly or arthritic pets.
Your dog’s fur coat does not necessarily mean that it is warm. If you want your dog to be warm enough to face the elements, a waterproof jacket might be good. Velcro jackets can be quickly put on and taken off dogs. Polar fleece is a warm and comfortable lining. Some jackets come with a hood. Additional protection is not required for breeds with thick hair like Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes. Dog boots are another way to protect your dog’s feet from snow, ice and ice melt. Even dogs with medium-to-heavy coats are susceptible to frostbite. Your dog’s ears and tail are the most common areas affected by frostbite. The following signs are indicative of frostbite:
- The affected area may experience swelling
Remember that puppies are more vulnerable to cold than adult dogs. Wrap your dog in a blanket if you suspect they have frostbite. Call your veterinarian immediately. You should never leave your dog outside for too long if they have a thin or hairless coat. Take shorter walks and dress them warmly than you would normally. Pets with heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, or Cushing’s should follow the same rules. Pets with these conditions have a harder time controlling their body temperature.
Every pet should have access to water. This means that owners must check their outdoor water bowls at least once a day to ensure they are not frozen. Dog owners often leave their outdoor water bowls unattended and full of dirt and debris. You can purchase thermal water bowls online or in pet shops that will prevent water freezing.
A warm engine can make it inviting for feral or outdoor cats in winter. Before you start your engine, check under the car’s hood. Antifreeze is another danger lurking in your garage or driveway. Ethylene glycol, an ingredient in many antifreeze products, is attractive to pets because of its sweet taste. It can cause death if your pet ingests even a small amount. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet may have consumed antifreeze containing ethylene glycol.
Proper nutrition is essential for pets. Winter is when outdoor pets need to consume more calories than in summer. If your dog spends most of the winter indoors, don’t overfeed them, or they will become overweight. Dogs that spend most of their time outdoors or are very active during the winter months will not need additional food. Talk to your veterinarian about whether your pet can be outside during winter. Also, get their advice on your dog’s nutritional requirements.
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