Winterize your Pets

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Sporting the latest in fur coats, many pets prefer life outdoors, even in the winter.

But give them a break!  Winterize their environment to keep them comfortable during the colder months.

Providing adequate shelter from the elements is the key to a healthy outdoor pet.  The healthy animal that has a cozy refuge where he can seek from the cold wind, driving rain, sleet, and snow will be better able to tolerate cold temperatures.
Pet’s shelters should be tightly constructed so there are no big cracks or gaping holes for drafts to whistle through.

The doorway should be just big enough for the animal to get through, and positioned away from prevailing winds.  The shelter itself should be just big enough for the animal to stand up and turn around in comfortably. Any bigger than that is just extra space to be warmed by your animal’s body heat, requiring that much more energy to stay warm.
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Insulation may be added between the roof and an inside ceiling to help maintain a constant temperature.  Building the shelter up off the ground several inches and adding insulation underneath will greatly add to the animal’s comfort.

If you use commercial insulation, be sure it is sealed away from the animal, especially the curious chewer, by tight flooring and/or ceiling.  Since these materials can be harmful, if you have doubts about keeping them away from your animals, insulate with cedar shavings.

Adding bedding of cedar shavings will give the animal something to burrow into on extremely cold days, helping him to maintain a comfortable body temperature.

If you use other bedding, it should be changed at least once a week and checked frequently to be sure it is clean and dry.  Because it cannot be kept clean and dry, old carpeting does not make good bedding.  Besides, carpeting is a great temptation to many animals, who may respond to your good intentions by shredding it all over your yard.

Position the shelter where it will receive the most available sunlight.  Shrubs and bushes or solid wood fences on the shady side of the shelter will offer additional protection.Shop Today!

Sick, injured, very young or old, short-haired and habitually indoor animals should not be left outside for extended periods of time in cold weather.  These animals are more susceptible to harm from the cold, and may even suffer hypothermia, or too low body temperature.

Symptoms of hypothermia include altered consciousness, shallow and infrequent breathing a slow or absent pulse, delayed or absent reflexes, and dilated pupils.  Survival depends on how long the animal’s body temperature has been lowered and to what extent.

If your pet is stricken with hypothermia, wrap in blankets, being careful not to obstruct breathing, and bring to the clinic immediately.  Treatment must be directed at rewarming (internally as well as externally if hypothermia is severe), and maintenance of vital body functions.

Frostbite or freezing of tissue can also occur in winter, but is rare in healthy, well-nourished animals.

Frostbite of the tips of tails of cats and short-haired animals is probably the most common cold injury.  This usually requires no treatment unless secondary infection develops.

Deep-freezing of tissues rarely occurs except in animals that have been physically injured or caught in wildlife traps that cut off circulation.  In this type of situation, it is imperative to seek professional veterinary assistance, keeping the frozen part frozen and protected from trauma during transportation.  Avoid thawing followed by re-freezing, as this will result in more tissue damage.

No pet should be out in zero and sub-zero weather for more than a few minutes at a time without adequate shelter.  When the weather gets this cold, provide additional bedding or consider bringing the pets inside.
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Winter is not a time to begin keeping an animal outside.  Acclimatization should begin in warm weather, permitting gradual increase in hair growth as temperatures become cooler.

Be sure to feed adequate amounts of food to produce enough body heat to maintain normal body temperature.  Remember since their water will freeze outside, you will need to provide a fresh drink at least twice a day.

A little extra attention and common sense will keep your companion animals comfortable all winter long.

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