As the frosts and fogs of an Australian winter start to set in, we all like to rug up with jumpers and scarves to keep warm. But how can we keep our pets warm in winter?
Certain dog breeds feel the cold more than others. As you’d expect, dogs from chilly origins, like Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes and Chow Chows, don’t mind as much when the temperature drops. Yet Greyhounds, Dobermans, small dogs and those with little to no hair will feel the cold. And of course, puppies get cold and should be kept indoors as much as possible. The first thing your dog will need to get through winter comfortably is adequate shelter, both indoors and out.
If you have a dog that is susceptible to the cold then it would be better to keep your dog indoors, especially at night. However this is not always possible. Outdoor kennels should be soundly made (no gaps) and have bedding inside them. Straw can be a good insulator against the cold coming up from the ground, and you can insulate the walls with various materials. Outdoor kennels should have sloped roofs to help with insulation. There should also be a protected entrance way to help guard from rain.
Indoor dogs can still get cold at night, so it’s best to have a cushioned bed with blankets. Keep the bed in a place away from drafts (perhaps in a corner) and keep it off the floor to stop the cold coming through the ground.
Dogs can benefit from wearing clothing, especially when they are outside or going for walks. Old, sick or short hair dogs especially need the extra warmth a jacket or sweater can bring. Raincoats can also be purchased for wet days, and there are booties for your dog’s paws.
It’s best to keep trimming to a minimum in winter so your dog can benefit from a thick coat. However, it may still be necessary if the fur becomes matted, as this does not insulate your dog well. When bathing dogs, it is best to do so indoors and make sure that your dog is thoroughly dried before they go outside.
Cats develop a thicker winter coat to keep them warm but they may still need a helping hand during winter.
While it’s better to keep cats inside during winter, not everyone does or can. If you spot a neighbourhood cat out on a cold day or night then you can help them out by building a cat shelter. This can be similar to a dog’s kennel and can be insulated with straw.
Cats are masters of finding the warmest spot in the house, but you still need to make one available. Good options are heated beds, towel lined boxes and bean bags.
Cats also love sunny spots, so if you’re heading out for the day open up the curtains so your kitty can laze in the winter sun.