Winter is tough on everyone—less daylight, more cold, and of course, that pesky white stuff that wreaks havoc on just about everything! People aren’t the only ones affected by the dramatic shift in weather—our pets notice it, too. Like people, animals need to stay warm, dry, and hydrated. The cold weather affects every animal differently so be sensitive to their needs, but the list below are some tips that generally apply to any type of pet:
Limit their time outside. Pets enjoy fresh air and sunshine as much as their humans do, but obviously, that’s tougher to do in winter. For dogs, limit walks to no more than 30 minutes (15-20 minutes for smaller dogs; 20-30 for larger breed), and make sure you shovel a path for them in the backyard. If your dog has short hair, he might be more comfortable in a coat or sweater with a high collar. According to the Humane Society of the United States’ website, cats should not be left outside for any reason during the winter (even if they go outside during the rest of the year), so get out the litterbox and make sure you have plenty of cat litter.
Check their paws. Dogs love licking their paws, but during the winter, their paws may touch things they shouldn’t consume, namely ice melting compounds and antifreeze. Wipe down their paws when they come in from a walk or roaming around your backyard to minimize their risk of consuming something harmful. Also, check their paws for redness between the toes or dry, cracked skin—common side effects of winter weather.
Know their limits. If your pet is very young, very old, or has a known health condition, the less time spent outside, the better.
Watch the ice! Watch for slippery spots on roads and sidewalks (your cat or dog can slip and fall just like a human), and avoid lakes or ponds at all costs. If the body of water is not completely frozen, you or your pet could get seriously hurt or killed if the ice breaks.
Make sure they’re warm. Your pet should have a warm and comfortable place to sleep. Try to move their beds away from drafty doorways
If your pet is used to spending time outside, the winter months can seem like an eternity. Be sure to play with them and keep them stimulated while they’re inside so they’re not getting into trouble!
Pet insurance is another way to care for your pet all year long. ETA Benefits Group is proud to offer pet insurance exclusively through Petplan, with various plans available. This coverage gives you peace of mind if your pet gets sick or injured, and it will also reimburse you for wellness visits. Contact us to learn more!
How do you help your pets get through the winter? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!