It's a bit nippy out. Are you running to the thermostat to adjust the temperature? Are you digging hats and gloves out of the coat closet for you and the kids to don on a chilly morning walk to the bus?
Have you also remembered to bundle up your family pets?
What?! You haven't?! Better get on that, pronto!
Dogs and cats exposed to harsh weather can get sick and injured...just like humans. It's important that pet owners provide additional shelter and clothing when the temperature drops.
Outdoor animals will need around the clock access to dry shelter: it should be large enough for movement, but small enough to keep heat close to the body.
Cats that go outside and short-haired dogs might need a sweater or coat to keep body heat in. Likewise, booties are a smart choice - if the pet will be moving through snow, ice, sleet or water- in order to keep the exposed skin on paws pads warm and dry.
And speaking of warm and dry: it's important to wipe down fur and skin that has been exposed as soon as your dog or cat comes back inside. Feet are especially vulnerable at this time of year. We often forget to be on the lookout for toxic ice-melting chemicals and sand on streets and sidewalks. These materials can irritate a pet's skin, and prove even more dangerous if ingested during a body lick.
If you're cost conscious and turn the heat down during the day, remember that pets left at home might get chilly. Provide them with blankets, towels, a warm bed or even a hot water bottle for snuggling. Indoors or out, it never feels good to get cold.
Don't be surprised if your dog or cat is extra hungry during colder months: warming the body burns more calories. Adding a bit more food to the menu might be warranted, especially if you see an unwanted drop in weight. Consult your veterinarian before adding food if your pet is on a restricted diet.
Finally, it's best to choose an animal that's right for your family and your climate. If you live in a place with extreme weather, you'll want a pet that enjoys that weather best. NJ STRAYS offers pet consultations as part of our Fair Rescue Project, before you adopt or purchase a pet. Reach out today to schedule your consultation: firstname.lastname@example.org. We help pet owners (and would-be pet owners) in Hudson, Bergen, Passaic, Essex, Union, Morris, Warren and Sussex Counties in North Jersey.