Pet owners are recommended to set the thermostat at around 69 degrees F during the winter to keep pets comfortable, but with rising energy bills some people avoid turning the heating on when they're not at home themselves. The body temperature of cats and dogs is around 3-4 degrees warmer than humans, but it’s a common misconception that pets aren’t as susceptible to the cold as humans, often because it’s believed their fur will protect them. While this is true to some extent, they can still become hypothermic and catch frostbite from getting too cold. The dangers of a hot day are well known and most people understand not to leave a pet in a hot car, but the threats of winter aren’t as well known.
Keep Them Indoors
Some owners believe their pets prefer to live outside, but when it comes to cats and dogs most of them love the coziness and comfort of your home. Temperatures under 45 F is when dogs will start to feel the cold, especially smaller dogs like chihuahuas. Breeds that have been bred for colder climates, such as huskies, can withstand colder temperatures but still shouldn’t be left outside for too long. It’s a good idea to walk dogs for shorter periods in the cold weather to avoid your dog getting too cold. Putting a sweater or coat on them can also keep them warm and it’s best to let non-shedding coats grow long for the winter.
Thermal Mats, Beds And Heaters
Thermal mats and beds for cats and dogs are self-warming by reflecting body warmth back to the pet when they lay on it. They are particularly good for older, young or ill pets as they are more prone to the cold. Alternatively, heaters are a good source of warmth that is instant and will help to heat the whole room, so are a good idea if you have more than one pet. Always supervise pets around any heating units. When going on car rides the car can be exceptionally cold to begin with and the engine can take time to warm up, so a separate heater for your car that produces warm air instantly is a good way to keep both you and your pet warm. Dogs shouldn’t be left in cars when they’re cold as they can quickly drop in temperature, even after being warmed up.
Keeping Horses Warm
You shouldn’t judge how cold a horse is based on how cold you are as they can handle lower temperatures much better than humans can. Digestion keeps your horse’s body warm making it important for them to have a constant source of fresh hay. Digestion can be aided by water, but cold temperatures can cause water to freeze. Putting a ball in the water trough will keep the surface of the water moving, making it harder for it to freeze. If the trough does freeze it’s easier to take the ball out to reveal fresh water than it is to try to break the ice.
Pets love to be warm and cozy and cats and dogs will welcome rolling about in front of a fire. Providing warm bedding, keeping pets indoors and regularly checking them to ensure they don’t get too cold is essential in keeping them healthy. Cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia, so be sure to keep them warm, and if you’re ever unsure it’s best to ask your veterinarian.
Submitted by Chrissy Jones