Many animals are not equipped to be outside through freezing temperatures. Even if they have thick fur it may not insulate well enough from the cold. When fur gets wet, it loses most of the ability to insulate heat in the body. Dogs with short hair are even more susceptible to colder weather.
As Temperatures Drop
As temperatures drop and we navigate ice on the roads, we must keep our pet’s health and safety in mind during the cold months here in Central Oregon. It's important to remember that even though our furry friends are covered in what seems to be warm fur, we must take certain precautions to keep them safe throughout the colder months. Remember that their fur doesn’t always keep them warm, and sometimes they need help from us to stay safe.
As the days and nights get colder, it can be hard on pets who are used to spending their time lounging in your backyard. It may be tempting to leave them outside but remember they shouldn’t be left outside for long. If you couldn’t stay outside that long, then neither should they. Imagine dogs with shorter hair, it’s like standing outside in freezing temperatures with nothing but a t-shirt on. There is a misconception that their fur acts like our snow gear, and it's an assumption that has had detrimental effects on many pets.
It may seem silly, but some dogs can benefit greatly from a coat or sweater. Dogs with shorter hair can get a chill when they’re out of doors. So, if your dog needs to wear a coat for your daily walks, get them one. Even as we head into fall temperatures can be too cold for your pup to be comfortable out of doors. You should be able to tell if they’re warm enough, but consider if you, yourself, reached for an extra layer before your walk. Consider how your short haired dog feels in the cold wind and adjust accordingly. It can be fun putting a holiday sweater on your dog. It's also responsible and could make a huge difference in your pet's comfort during your snowy stroll with the family.
Protect Their Paws & Pads
Keep an eye on your cat’s and dog’s paws. Most animals have fur between their toes that ice and snow love to stick too. This can make it hard for your pet to walk and can cause damage to the pads of their feet and hurt them. If you have a pet that loves playing in the snow, there are some ways to help their feet. Booties are always a great solution, if your pet can tolerate them. Some pets don’t deal with the feeling of wearing booties well.
If you want to take your dog out for a snow run or ski, try putting the booties on when you’re nearly ready to go. Wait to put them on and let your dog out of the house or car, until you’re ready to hit the trail. This way, your dog has little time to chew at them or rip them off. They’re more likely to keep them on because they’re distracted by the thought of going for a walk with you. Keep an eye on the booties so your pet doesn't chew it up and possibly ingest one. Swallowing a bootie could cause an animal emergency for your beloved companion and we all know those emergencies are costly and potentially tragic.
Musher’s wax can also be a huge help. It is a messier option to booties, but it can work just as well if not better. It’s a wax that is applied to the pads of dog’s feet and the hair surrounding the pads. It keeps the snow and ice from sticking to your pet’s feet. It is called musher’s wax because it’s what mushers use with their sled dogs. This could be perfect for your kitty who insists on a snowy stroll through the neighborhood. Or for your cat that loves to roam, even when it’s cold out. Be sure to wipe the wax off, so that it doesn’t get all over the inside of your car or home.
Whatever solution you decide on, just remember your pet’s comfort and safety is largely similar to that of a human. Try and keep those four-legged friends warm and cold weather ready!