While life in the southern coastal states may not bring snowy streets and frigid temperatures, we do occasionally get inclement weather. Even cool weather can be a challenge for senior pets or those with compromised health, which is why weather safety is important year-round for our furry companions.
Winter and Your Senior or Health-Compromised Pet
Cold weather can present numerous risks for senior or ill pets. It’s sometimes easy to use our own comfort level as a gauge, forgetting that colder temps can make certain conditions worse, such as joint stiffness or arthritis.
To help your pet navigate the colder months, here are a few tips to keep him or her warm and comfortable:
- Consider investing in a self-warming or raised bed and add a few more blankets for additional coziness.
- Carpeting or throw rugs provide extra warmth and traction for pets with mobility challenges.
- Keep your pet’s bed in a sunny or otherwise warm room away from drafts, windows, and doors that lead to the outside.
- Move your morning dog walk to the late morning or afternoon, when the temperatures have risen.
- Outfit your pet with a quality coat and booties, and consider a sweater indoors if your pet is particularly susceptible to cold.
General Winter Weather Considerations
It’s also important to remember that all pets can be impacted by winter weather risks. Being outside too long when temperatures dip down to the 30’s can result in frostbite and hypothermia.
Antifreeze poisonings are a major concern this time of year, along with road salts and other noxious chemicals that can be ingested.
If you plan on traveling with your pet to a colder climate, be aware of these poisons as well as additional clothing that may be needed on the road, like a jacket and booties.
Dehydration is another important issue. It’s not often considered during the winter, but dehydration can occur any time of year, so don’t become lax about refilling the water bowl. Try setting up a reminder to check the bowl a few times a day, and remember to bring your dog’s water along during walks.
Cool Weather and the Outdoor Pet
While we advocate for dogs and cats to reside in the home, there are situations where pets spend most of their time outside (or you may be concerned about feral or homeless pets in the neighborhood who are at risk).
In these cases, it’s particularly important to provide a wind- and rain-proof shelter. This can be anything from a raised enclosure with straw, towels, or other materials to a barn or shed.
Remember, when temperatures drop, a small amount of water in your pet’s bowl can freeze. Pay extra attention to water bowls for outdoor pets, or purchase an electric heated bowl designed for winter weather.
Pets, especially those with compromised health systems, can be at greater risk during the hottest and the coldest times of year. Whenever possible, schedule a winter wellness exam to ensure your pet is managing the cooler months without any challenges to health and wellbeing.
For additional winter safety tips, please contact the team at Westlake Animal Hospital.