Maywood_iStock_000002968259_LargeJust as you get ready for chillier weather by buying a new coat or flannel sheets, preparing your pet for winter is important to his or her health. While winter pet care is necessary for everyone, some animals may handle the change in temperature better than others. Small companions or senior pets can really struggle with the cold.

So before we find ourselves in the heart of the frosty season, we’ve put together some winter pet care tips for your dog, cat, or small mammal pet.

Dog-Gone Cozy Doggies

One of the biggest challenges for dogs during the winter is a noticeable decline in exercise. After all, our usual routine consists of morning walks – until it gets cold, dark, and icy.

However, it’s possible to keep your pup active and safe from the elements with some of these winter pet care tips:

  • Invest in a high-quality winter coat and booties – perfect for maintaining walks
  • If it’s too cold or icy, try some indoor games like fetch with a soft ball or toy
  • For older dogs, make sure their beds are in a draft-free area, complete with a blanket or two
  • Consider buying a sweater for a short-haired or senior dog
  • Keep an eye out for winter toxins like de-icer and antifreeze

No Chilly Cats

Feline friends should also stay indoors during the coldest days of the year. If you cannot make a place for your cat inside, create a warm refuge on a covered porch or in the garage.

The darker mornings and earlier evenings can also put cats at more of a risk for being hit by a car. Think about adding a reflective collar or – better yet – simply bring your cat inside at night.

Cats are also known to hide under a warm car hood near the engine, which can result in injury or death. Avoid a tragic accident by tapping on the hood before starting up your car.

Like all older pets, senior felines need some extra cushion to stay warm and comfortable, so find a draft-free spot in the home for his or her bed.

Warm Whiskered and Feathered Friends

Small or exotic pets, such as Guinea pigs, hamsters, reptiles, and birds, often come from temperate or tropical regions and are very sensitive to colder weather.

Provide extra warmth for your small pal by making sure you have the appropriate material (and depth) of bedding. Also ensure the cage is kept warm either through heat lamps or by covering the cage with a heavy fabric (depending on the type of pet). Keep all animals out of drafty areas and away from doors and windows.

Of course, the best approach to caring for an exotic pet is to educate yourself on the right husbandry for the species. When in doubt, please contact the team at Maywood Veterinary Clinic for an exotic pet consultation.

Other Tips for Winter Pet Care

Along with animal-specific ideas, general winter pet care typically involves:

  • Providing a warm shelter and place to sleep
  • Maintaining veterinary care (senior pets benefit from a winter exam to check weight and joint pain/stiffness)
  • Watching for winter dangers, such as toxins and hypothermia
  • Offering a well-balanced diet and plenty of fresh water

Please call us to discuss more winter pet care ideas to keep your companion warm and cozy in the coming months.