As the temperatures grow colder, many people are tempted to hunker down indoors with a comforter and hot beverages. However, before you start getting comfortable for the winter months, it’s very important that you first get your pet ready for colder weather as well. Many pets aren’t physically equipped to deal with winter weather, which is why preparing your pet for winter is a very important part of pet care.
Indoor or outdoor
Many people leave their pets outdoors during the winter months, since they assume that their pets prefer to be left outside. However, this is often not the case. As stated before, many pets will not respond well to excessive outdoor exposure in cold temperatures. It’s important for you to recognize when your pet may be suffering from hypothermia, which can be accomplished by being able to identify several key signs. Blue or pale gums, shivering, having a temperature of less than 95 degrees and extreme lethargy are all signs of hypothermia in pets.
Food and water
If your pet is being exposed to colder weather, you may want to consider slightly increasing their feeding ratio. Most pets will burn calories trying to stay warm, which means that they will require more calories in their regular diet. It’s best not to excessively increase your pet’s food intake, however, since this can contribute to weight gain in combination with inactivity. It’s also very important that you keep your pet thoroughly hydrated during wintertime, which is best done by providing a constant supply of fresh water.
Even if your pet is not outdoors for extended periods of time, it’s very important that you provide your pet with the right shelter. Most pets will benefit from having an enclosed area that is sufficiently insulated, such as a small shelter. This shelter should have an entrance that faces away from the wind, and be covered to protect against harsh weather conditions. To provide a higher level of comfort for your pet, it is also best if you line this shelter with old blankets, towels or soft bedding material.
Winter is one of the most crucial times that you need to ensure that your pet is entertained. Since many pets will be kept indoors for a significant amount of time during winter, it’s best if you provide alternate forms of entertainment. There are many fun, colorful and interactive pet toys that can provide sufficient entertainment for your pet. Some pets will benefit from specific forms of entertainment, for example, a bird feeder. For cats, a bird feeder provides a constant source of entertainment which will keep them busy for many hours each day.
In regards to caring for your pet, it’s important not to forget that winter is a season that can be punctuated by severe storms and weather conditions. In the event of a power outage, be sure that you have access to enough food, water and pet supplies to properly care for your pet. Try to keep several cases of bottled water in food storage, since water is one of the most often neglected elements of pet disaster preparedness.