As usual with family Foster life we are on the move again! Team Foster will be spending a few winter months in the north of England. This means, wet and cold. Pepe is now over 11 years old and we must be careful with him in a cold climate making sure he is kept warm. Keeping pets warm in winter is important.
Maltese don’t have an undercoat to keep them warm but I love buying sweaters and coats for Pepe and this is just the excuse I need to update his wardrobe. I already have my eye on a couple of sweaters and a waterproof warm coat. If I can find the time I might even knit him one myself in my special cashmere yarn! However, we have some lovely warm sweaters and jackets on our Time To Get Dressed page!
Any pet living in a cold climate needs special attention and there are some surprising facts you may not be aware of about protecting pets in a cold climate. Short haired or hairless dogs, puppies and senior dogs need special attention in the cold. Consider this, if you are cold the chances are your pet is too. And, if a place is too cold for you sleep in its too cold for your pet too.if you are cold the chances are your dog is too Click To Tweet
Cold Weather Hazards
- Ice can form on hair on the pads of feet. Keep hair trimmed around and in between their pads
Salt off the roads and pavements. Wash pets feet after being outdoors or let them wear boots. Licking salt will cause inflammation of the digestive tract
- Antifreeze (ethylene gylcol) is a deadly poison. It has a smell and taste that is attractive to pets but just a couple of teaspoons will kill a 10lb/5kg pet. Make sure all leaks and spills are thoroughly cleaned and pets feet are washed after being in areas where they may have picked it up onto their paws. If you suspect your dog has ingested antifreeze or any other product containing ethylene gylcol take them to the vet immediately. The antidote is ethanol. The symptoms are two phase. Phase 1 within 30 minutes to an hour after ingestion are lethargy, disorientation and uncoordinated (similar to being drunk!) The symptoms of phase 2 that can occur up to a day later are vomiting, oral ulcers, kidney failure, coma and death (yes, it’s that serious!)
- Hypothermia. Below 40f/4c pets are at risk of hypothermia particularly if it is windy (Always consider wind chill when checking outdoor temperatures particularly with small dogs). Symptoms of hypothermia are shivering/trembling, stiffness or loss of coordination, pale or grey gums, fixed or dilated pupils, collapse. Warm your pet gradually and visit the vet as soon as possible.
- Frost bite. Symptoms include grey, black or bluish areas of skin, pain or swelling, blisters or ulcers on skin. Check areas such the tail, ears, nose, paw pads. Symptoms of frost bite can occur a day or two later after exposure to cold. Visit the vet for the necessary treatment.
- Abrupt changes in temperature can increase the risk of respiratory infections in dogs
- If your pet can manage to wear boots this will keep their feet warmer and protect them from the salt and snow removal chemicals.
Outdoor Living Dogs
There are breeds of dog that are able to live outdoors in cold temperatures. Breeds such as Huskies, Alaskan Malmutes, Tibetan Terriers, Bernese Mountain Dogs & Newfoundlands are all genetically suited to a life outdoors. Even so, they still need to be factored into keeping pets warm. Outdoor breeds still need to be looked correctly to keep them fit and healthy.
- As part of keeping pets warm, provide extra food when the temperature drops as keeping warm burns more calories
- Their house/shelter should be off the ground by at least 3 inches and in good repair with no leaks or cracks in the roof or you could get them a fantastic heated house!
- Provide dry bedding and replace when damp and especially when wet
- Place their shelter in a sheltered spot
- If the temperature drops below freezing bring your pet indoors at night
- Take extra care with grooming as a well groomed coat will perform its protection duties much better free of matts, knots and tangles
Keeping Pets Warm – Really Useful Tips
- To keep your precious friend warm when you all venture out, put their coat or sweater in the dryer or on the heater for 10 – 15 minutes before going out so they get the instant warmth from it.
- If you are going out into the wet or snow a waterproof jacket, such as our Waxed Cotton Jacket is perfect. Wet clothes will take away more heat than they will conserve.
- Ten to fifteen minutes in temperatures lower than 40f/4c is enough for small indoor dogs and soppy humans like me!
- Keep a check on your pets diet in the colder weather. If you are not going to play or walk because of the cold then adjust their food intake accordingly.
- An overweight pet is not on my agenda so will be organising more indoor play if gets too cold to play outdoors. Games up and down the stairs is great exercise.
- In the colder weather you can make changes to your grooming and bathing routines as part of keeping pets warm. Outdoor hosepipe baths in cold weather vastly increases the risk of hypothermia, something to definitely avoid!
- Your pets coat is a natural sweater so let it do its job in the cold weather and grow longer.
- Many of us leave our pets alone when we go out but remember that conservatories, garages and cars can act like a refrigerator and hold the cold in.
Is your best friend now ready to brave those freezing temperatures without shivering ? I hope so! If you have any top tips on keeping pets warm why not share them with us.