Living on Prince Edward Island, I have known cold much worse than I could have ever imagined having grown up in Maine, just a ten-hour drive south. With the winter months upon us, that also brings colder weather and inclement rain conditions. I’m a big chicken about the cold, but I feel even worse when I have to drag my poor beagle out in two feet of snow with an insane wind chill, beating down on us. Our pets definitely need winter weather protection as well!
Here are some things to keep in mind when the weather is chilly:
- Keep your pets indoors except to relieve themselves when temperatures drop drastically, precipitation is heavy, or wind chill is extreme. Animals can suffer from cold-related injuries such as frostbite just like humans, particularly around their extremities (ears, tail, feet).
- Invest in cold weather gear for your pets. I know some animals don’t tolerate this, but my little beagle gets very cold very easily so keeping a jacket on her when it’s cold keeps her comfortable. Booties are also helpful to keep toes warm and not susceptible to ice or salt on the roads. On that note, pet safe salt is made so you can safely melt the ice in your driveway.
- Staying inside to keep warm during winter months can lead to pent up energy in your pets and also obesity. If your animal’s exercise level has dropped, decreasing their food intake may be necessary to keep from accumulating unnecessary pounds. To combat boredom, try using a puzzle feeder to stretch their meals out and give them something to do. This could be as simple as putting kibble in an egg carton. Also, working on tricks is a great way to provide mental stimulation indoors. I’ve taught some fun ones such as dance, army crawl, and patty cakes.
- If a storm is coming, make sure to keep your pet close. Bring outdoor cats inside, and make sure your fences, leashes, collars, harnesses, etc. are secure. Storms make for a difficult time trying to locate a pet. Always make sure to have your pet properly identified with a collar in case they escape. Microchips are also highly recommended in case a collar is lost or removed. These will make it easier to identify your pet and get them back to you ASAP.
Don’t forget the big animals too! They can’t come in the house with us, but making sure farm animals have an adequate shelter, fresh unfrozen water, and plenty of food are absolutely required. Blanketing can be controversial, but horses that are thin, older or don’t grow a proper hair coat should be blanketed to save energy during the cold months.
I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season, and that you’re all in a warmer place than I am!