"If you're cold, they're cold." If you have a cat or a dog, that's a quote that you should keep in mind all winter long. Because even though your pet obviously can't tell you that they're cold, they're going to feel chilly when the temperature drops, and it could affect their health if you're not careful.
Generally speaking, most dogs will start to get uncomfortable in the cold anytime the temperature falls below 7 degrees. The same is true for cats that spend most of their time indoors. As the weather starts to turn and winter approaches, here are four tips that will help you take care of your pets and keep them healthy this winter.
1. Watch Their Weight
It's especially crucial for your pet to get the nutrients they need when winter rolls around.
Sometimes it's easy to assume that we need to "fatten up" our cats and dogs in the winter. We give them a little bit of extra food every day to pack on a few extra kgs, hoping that the additional weight will keep them warm throughout the winter months.
But this is not the approach that you should take! All that extra weight might keep them warmer, but it can also lead to other health-related issues.
Instead, feed your pet the right amount of food and watch their weight to make sure they stay in the healthy range and give them healthy treats that show them you care without harming their health.
Outdoor cats can eat a bit more food in the winter as they can usually use a few additional calories to keep them warm. Although I know mine spend a lot more time indoors during winter, which is great as it means I have three furry hot water bottles!!
It's also important to remember that cats regulate their food intake themselves while dogs generally have no "off button" and will gulp down whatever you give them, whenever you give it to them! The last thing you want to do is unknowingly put your pet into harm's way when you think you're helping them.
2. Avoid Leaving Your Dog Outside For Long Periods of Time
In the warmer months, your dog can roam around outside as much as they want. You also take your pooch on long walks to make sure they're getting more than enough exercise. But during the cold winter months, they shouldn't be left outside for long periods of time. If you work away from home during the day and they're left outside, ensure that your pup has a proper, weather proof kennel with warm, dry bedding.
It's a natural assumption to think that cats and dogs are better prepared to handle the cold than humans because of their fur. But outside of a few cat and dog breeds that are more tolerant of the cold than others, pets are a lot like humans. That means that if you're cold, they're cold. It also gives you the perfect excuse to invest in some adorable dog sweaters, jackets and scarves for your pup for those times when it's very crisp outside. They'll provide your pet with an extra layer and keep them comfortable when they're out and about.
3. Check Your Pup's Paws
When you walk around outside in the wintertime, you likely do it while wearing winter boots. No one likes having cold feet.
Your dog, on the other hand, doesn't have this option. So it's a good idea to check their paws every so often to see if you notice any bleeding or cracked paw pads. If your pup's paws are cracked, apply an organic coconut oil to their paws to soothe them, and it'll help with any cuts as it's also a natural antibacterial. If there's any bleeding check for small cuts and if it persists, consult your vet. You don't want to allow a paw problem to linger and get worse over time. (Watch this space: Gizzls will be launching a CBD balm at the end of June!!)
4. Arthritis and Joint Pain
You should also be very mindful about caring for dogs that have arthritic conditions in the winter. Cold weather can make arthritis worse than usual and make your pup very uncomfortable and sore. Gizzls CBD Oil and Treats can provide your dog with some much-needed relief. This post explains the benefits of using CBD for arthritis and joint pain in dogs.
5. Groom your Dog
Dogs need a clean, well-groomed coat to keep them properly insulated. This is especially important if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors. After a bath, make sure your pup is dried thoroughly before allowing them outside.