If you’re feeling cold this winter, chances are, your pet is too. Whereas we can put on a jacket when it’s freezing, your pet can’t grow extra fur.
And let’s face it, although South African winter could be WAY worse, it does get chilly from time to time—especially at night.
You see them shaking and shivering, and you want to help. But you know a nice mug of hot Milo is out of the question. So, what’s a pawrent to do?
Let’s dive in.
How cold is too cold for my pet?
You see all that fur and it makes you think, “They’re practically wearing a fur coat, there’s no way they’re cold.” Well, you’re wrong on that one, bub.
Think about it: Does your head still get cold even though you have hair? Of course it does. So to answer the question, “How cold is too cold for my pets?”, use this as a rule of thumb: If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for them.
In fact, any temperature that’s in the minus is a good indicator that it’s time to go inside and stay under a blanket until September.
How can I tell if my pets are cold?
Some obvious signs of your pet being cold include shivering and trembling. However, there are other, more subtle, signs that your pet is trying to shake off the weather.
For example, if your dog’s ears are pushed back and the tail is tucked between the legs, this could indicate that your pooch is trying to the torso warm. It’s the same as when we cross our arms or rub our hands together when it’s crisp outside.
You’ll probably also see your doggo curling up to you on the bed, or find a cosy spot to curl up in, such as on that pile of laundry you were going to put away last week.
Cats are different. Cats will casually go lie down under your car to soak up the warmth from the engine. Beware of this, and always check under your car during winter, even if you don’t have a kitty. Someone else’s 4-legged could be there.
Small pets, much like cats and dogs, will do the winter shake and even become more lethargic. They’ll move a lot slower and may lose their appetite. Look out for early signs such as pushing their bedding to a corner to insulate themselves.
Six Ways to Keep Your Pets Warm in Winter
1. Bring your pets indoors
If you normally leave your pets outdoors at night, bring them inside where everyone else is cosy and warm. They are family, after all, and deserve the same creature comforts as everyone else.
Inviting your pets inside not only raises their body temperature but also keeps them safe from any dangers outside. For example, if you have a cat, you lessen the risk of your kitty getting into a fight with a stray.
There’s also a smaller chance of any car injuries or parasite infestations. Speaking of, did you know that ticks and fleas are still active in winter?
Although more prevalent in sunny South Africa’s coastal region, pesky creepy crawlies are just waiting to jump on your pet no matter the weather.
It’s therefore important to treat your 4-leggeds from ticks and fleas year-round or else the cold won’t be the only thing biting this year.
2. Invest in winter bedding
Ah, there’s nothing like curling up on the couch and streaming your favourite show on Netflix. The only thing that could make this moment better is having your pet right there with you.
Your furry friend loves to cuddle too, and you can stop all that shivering by investing in toasty blanket that you can both enjoy.
If you don’t want any paws on the couch, get your cat or dog a comfortable winter bed to nestle in. A cat bed that’s soft and semi or fully closed is perfect for felines that like to hide out from that crisp chill in the air.
Dogs don’t care much for closed beds. All they want is a bed that’s comfortable and padded enough so they won’t feel the cold hard floor beneath them.
If you’ve got a small pet or feathery friend, the best you can do besides placing them in a warm area in the house is to get extra bedding.
Stuff enough of it in the corners of their cages to insulate your pets’ homes and prevent them from freezing at night.
3. Clothe your pets
You shouldn’t need an excuse to dress your dog in adorable clothing—but if you were looking for one, winter is it.
Beyond making your pooch look absolutely FABULOUS, clothing is practical in that it helps your doggo stay warm while venturing the great outdoors.
It’s important to know that dog clothing is more beneficial to certain breeds of dogs than it is to others, such as small, short-haired and bully breeds.
If you’re a cat parent, you’re probably wondering if your kitty can wear a jersey too. Although, yes, cats can wear jerseys too, it’s rarely advised.
Cats don’t generally like being dressed up. However, if you’ve got a sphynx or cat that’s been shaved for surgery, you can definitely try and put a jersey on them—if they’ll let you.
If your cat is quite mellow and doesn’t mind wearing a small dog jersey, then go for it. They’ll surely appreciate it during the colder months of winter.
4. Amp up your pet’s activity levels
Going out for a walk during winter is a great way to keep you and your pooch fit throughout the season. Not only does a good, brisk walk warm you both up but it also helps prevent those winter blues.
Before you just grab that harness and lead, be sure to put on a comfortable dog jersey before you go. Keep an eye on your pet’s body language while you’re out. If your furry friend is still shivering with clothing on, rather exercise indoors.
You could get out a fun tug or wand toy and pawty it up in the living room. Another super fun way to expend some energy is by giving your cat or dog a LickiMat Wobble.
A great way to spruce up dinnertime, this lick mat is multi-functional, acting as a boredom buster, stress-reliever and slow-feeder all at the same time.
Speaking of feeding …
5. Give your pets more (or less) food
If you’ve got wild bird friends, then you should know that they require higher levels of fat in winter to stay warm. Feeding them yummy seeds or even those delicious suet treats that they’ve been craving will definitely do the trick.
CAUTION: Do NOT let your dog get hold of bird seed. It’s incredibly high in fat and may make them chunky, or worse.
When it comes to other pets, feeding more or less food is dependent on their activity levels. For cats and dogs, it’s advisable that you observe their behaviour during the seasons. This is to see how to adjust their calorie intake.
For example, if your pets are more active in winter, you would obviously give them a bit more food. If they’re less active, you’d give them less food.
If you’re feeling desperate or unsure of how much food to give, be sure to contact our customer care team. They’d love to assist!
6. Make your dog’s crate nice and toasty
If you’re part of the crate-training brigade, then you of all people should know how uncomfortable it LOOKS without any bedding or blankets. Now imagine how it FEELS. If you answered “cold and jail-like”, you’d be correct. Time for a makeover.
The first way to spruce up the crate and make it snug comes down to things your dog can lie on. Start by putting in a pet mat. It needs to be tough to ward off any chewing and padded enough to keep your hound comfy, cosy.
Next, you’ll want to add ALL the blankets. Okay, one blanket. Or two, it’s your call. Just make sure it’s fluffy enough to warm the bones.
If that’s still not enough, then it’s time to get thermal. Do your best bud a favour and get a pet mattress that’s self-heating. You’re probably thinking, “my electricity!”, but not to worry. These basically heat up by reflecting your hound’s body temperature back onto them (how cool?).
If the cold winter air gets really brutal, and your house has zero insulation, top things off by throwing a thermal blanket into the mix. Your dog WILL thank you.