Winter’s hard on all of us, especially cats and dogs. Because they can’t adjust the thermostat, their safety and warmth depend entirely on you. But if you can’t be home to run the furnace all day, you’ll need an energy-efficient strategy to protect them from the cold. Here are a few simple ways to keep your pets snug and happy this winter.
Raise Their Bed Off the Floor
Sleeping on a cold floor is terrible for your pet. It’s not only uncomfortable, but in extremely low temperatures, it puts them at risk of hypothermia. Elevating their bed a few inches prevents heat loss and ensures a good night’s sleep.
Buy a Self-Warming Bed
Modern pet beds are more than a soft place to snuggle up. They use reflective insulation to absorb and redirect your pet’s heat back to them, ensuring they stay warm throughout the night.
Lay Down Extra Blankets
Dogs and cats love to burrow under blankets when it’s cold, so leave a few on your couch, bed, or wherever else your pet likes to snuggle ‒ the thicker and softer, the better. Be wary if you have a puppy, however. Because they love to chew on loose items, any blankets you set down might quickly get torn to shreds.
Put Down More Rugs
If your pet is walking around on tiles or hardwood floors, they’re going to be cold almost everywhere they go. Consider placing rugs in high-traffic areas. They don’t have to be expensive, just as long as they keep your pet’s paws off the ground.
Get Them a Jacket or Sweater
Some pets are built for cold weather. Mountain dogs, german shepherds, Maine coons, Russian blues ‒ these breeds have thick coats made for ice and snow. Other breeds, such as danes, boxers, and abyssinians, don’t have enough fur or body fat to insulate themselves against the cold.
For these animals, a jacket or sweater is a godsend. They need to be thick to be effective, so make sure they’re made of the right material. Wool is good but can be itchy. Acrylic or wool blends might be more comfortable and can generally be washed alongside your regular clothes.
Make sure the fit is right as well. Dogs and cats normally dislike tight clothing, so the sweater has to be snug but not constricting. Start by measuring their neck, chest, and length. Once you’ve found something in their size, make sure it’s easy to take on and off. If your pet can’t move freely, then the sweater isn’t right for them.
Even if your pet is plenty warm, a bandana like the ones we’re giving away for Valentine’s Day this year can give your furry friend some personality. Learn more here.
Drafts are the enemy of every homeowner, but they’re a particular nuisance to your pets because the drafts that affect them typically go unnoticed. Since our feet and shins are more resistant to cold, humans aren’t as bothered by ground drafts as our pets.
For animals, however, ground drafts hit them right in the face. Worse, they’re at the same level as their beds, making them doubly cold at night. Most cold air sneaks in under doors, but windows can be a problem too. Glass is a poor insulator, and cracks frequently develop around window frames. Sealing these up makes life a lot easier for your pets.
If you aren’t sure whether a door or window is a problem, kneel until you’re on the same level as your dog or cat. You’ll notice right away if there’s a draft.
Feed Them Larger Meals
Letting your cat or dog outside to explore new sights, smells, and sounds is a great way to keep them happy and healthy, even in winter. However, staying warm outdoors is also taxing, especially on animals who weren’t bred for cold climates. Jackets and sweaters help, but regulating their body temperature still burns a lot of extra calories.
To compensate, consider giving your pet a bit more at mealtimes. The additional calories will help them stay warm and active.
Sharing body heat is one of the simplest and fastest ways to warm up. Animals do it frequently in the wild. In fact, you might have noticed dogs and cats want to snuggle more when it’s cold out. This may be difficult with large pets, but as long as you can find a big enough space, it’s an easy, low-cost way to keep them warm.