We are mid-way through winter and boy has it been a chilly one! While for us humans layering a few clothes on and staying indoors is a pretty easy way to keep warm, we need to be mindful of our faithful little buddies and their needs as well.
Keeping your pets warm will always boil down to the breed and your own pets preference. What works for a Maltese will not work for a Husky! The same is with cats, I will never forget the way my mother-in-laws two Siamese cats used to head straight to the air-conditioner unit when the temp would drop and start to meow at it. Why? Because they knew it was the source of all warmth and a human would not be too far away to switch it on for them!
How do you know if your pet is feeling the cold? Like most things with our beloved pets they can't speak to us and tell us what they need or want... but there are signs. Some dogs can seem to be shivering when cold and can present unwanted behaviour, such as toileting in the house rather than venturing outside. These signs are more prevalent in small breeds or breeds with very short coats.
The quickest way to make them more comfortable is to use a weather proof coat with a fleece lining so that they are protected from wind and drizzly rain. The fleece lining is as warm as when you or I wear our favourite hoody and keeps them warm and toasty. If your pet doesn't like to walk on cold, wet grass then you may need to invest in some dog booties. Booties for dogs are growing in popularity and can take some getting used to, but if introduced in a positive way can save you a lot of clean up time this winter!
What about dogs with thick or long hair coats, should they wear a jumper too? Well in most cases these dogs may not enjoy having a fleece or woolen coat on as there natural coat is their "jumper". With our Mishy Moo she has a very efficient and typical GSD double coat system. Her undercoat is downy with an outer layer of longer, coarse "guard" hairs. Light rainfall doesn't penetrate the "guard" hairs easily and mud tends to dry and fall out of the coat. This being said if the coat is not brushed to remove shedding hairs or to remove matting, the efficiency factor falls and cannot work as designed. So it is important to keep your grooming up throughout the winter months to ensure your pets natural coat is in peak condition.
In addition to grooming your pet throughout winter to keep their coat at optimum levels, it is important to keep their bedding clean as well. Our cat, Jessicat, loves to sleep on the headrest of the lounge as the sun hits that spot at midday and she knows it! If your cat has a special spot like ours, be sure to vacuum it regularly to remove shed hair and discourage mites from sticking around. Similarly, if you add blankets to your dogs bed for extra comfort and warmth be sure to throw them through a wash cycle and air dry on the line in the sun. This way your pets will always love their bed and you may get some of your own bed back this winter!
Until next time, stay warm!