Keeping Your Pets Safe During Winter

Keeping pets healthy and happy is a year-round job, but there are certain considerations you should keep in mind during the long winter months. Those who live in climates that feature a great deal of snow and subfreezing temperatures such as Alaska, Michigan and Montana should keep in mind that just because animals have fur coats doesn’t mean that they don’t feel the sting of the cold.

Should Pets Be Left Outdoors in Cold Weather?

Expecting household pets to sleep outdoors in freezing temperatures is not advised. If you see your dog or cat shivering, you should bring it in immediately in order to prevent the animal from experiencing cold-related health issues. If you absolutely must leave your pet outdoors when temperatures plummet in your manufactured home community, there are several precautions that you can take to ensure that your pet has a warm place to sleep.

  • A small shelter will help conserve your pet’s body heat better than a large one
  • Straw bedding makes an excellent insulator
  • Be sure to provide at least one warm blanket

Pet Nutritional Needs During Cold Weather

If your pet is spending significant time outdoors during cold weather, it will need an increase in calories to provide its body with the energy required to cope with cold temperatures. Because cold temperatures cause dehydration, your pet will also need a constant source of fresh, clean water. Many pet owners fail to realize that drinking water should never be allowed to become icy.

  • Check with your vet to determine your pet’s nutritional needs in winter
  • Place food and water bowls out of the wind
  • Replenish drinking water often
  • Consider using a heated water bowl to prevent drinking water from freezing

Exercising Your Pet During the Winter Months

Many pet owners are reluctant to take their pets out for exercise when temperatures become uncomfortably brisk, but proper exercise is important, particularly for younger dogs. Pet owners can make their walks more pleasant by bundling up and going out during the warmest part of the day. It should also be kept in mind that because very cold temperatures negatively affect the sense of smell, your pet may not be able to find its way home if it gets lost as easily as it would be in the spring, summer, or fall months.

  • Booties on your dog will keep their feet from becoming frostbitten
  • Sweaters and even hats can help protect pets from the cold
  • Bring your pet back inside if it begins to shiver

There are times when the temperature is so cold that leaving a pet outdoors is nothing short of cruel. Animals should be brought indoors if temperatures reach 0 degrees Fahrenheit or less.

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