Depending upon where you live, you may be faced with bitter cold temperatures and below-zero wind chills. You know how much you hate getting out in it, but what about your pets? If you’re considering pet care in winter time, here’s how to keep your pets healthy.

Every year when the temperatures dip below freezing, you may hear local weather forecasters encourage pet owners to ensure their pets are safe. This is particularly important if your pet spends an extended time outdoors. Since your pet depends on you to keep them comfortable and safe, you’ll want to remember how vulnerable they can be to cold and wet.

  • Take your pet to visit the veterinarian before the weather changes too drastically. The vet will be able to tell you if your pet needs special care for colder temperatures. Take this opportunity to ensure they aren’t infested with fleas which could weaken them.
  • Wipe up any antifreeze for your car, or ice and chemicals used to melt snow. Antifreeze is a poison which can kill your dog or cat; they are attracted to it because it tastes sweet. It is possible to find antifreeze made of propylene glycol which is much safer. Salt or de-icing chemicals can irritate your pet’s feet. They will also lick their feet if they are irritated which could irritate their mouth.
  • If it’s very cold, don’t leave your animals outdoors. Your pets are safer if they remain indoors except for walking or relieving themselves. If your pet has short hair, you may want to purchase a sweater for them to use while being walked.
  • Pay particular attention to the wind chill, or feels-like temperature. Wind chill can be detrimental, even life threatening. Provide a draft-free dog house for dogs which must remain outdoors. The house should be large enough for the dog to move around and small enough to retain body heat. Place it in the yard in such a way that it will face away from the wind; you’ll also want to have a layer of cedar shavings and a piece of burlap, heavy plastic, or carpeting to cover the doorway.
  • Be prepared to feed more food to any dog or cat which remains outdoors during the winter. Why would they need to eat more when it’s cold? It takes a lot of energy to keep warm. You’ll also want to be sure they have plenty of unfrozen, fresh water throughout the day. Feed and water them in plastic bowls as their tongue can stick to metal dishes.
  • Before you start your vehicle in the morning, check under the hood to be sure small animals haven’t been attracted by the heat of the engine from the night before. You can also bang on the hood or honk the horn to get them out.
  • Some people have larger pets such as horses, ponies, or donkeys. Have extra blankets or rugs on hand to keep these pets warmer. You’ll also want to ensure their enclosures are draft-free.

Pets add so much to our lives. Unconditional love, affection, companionship, and protection are some of the benefits of having cats, dogs, or other animals. It’s our responsibility as their owners and caretakers to think about taking care of pets in wintertime. You know how to keep your pets healthy so you can enjoy their company for some time to come.