As winter approaches and the evenings begin to cool, we all reach for our fluffy slippers and thick dressing gowns and the crocheted blankets get pulled out. But, what about our four-legged friends, especially those that spend their time outside or sleep in the laundry or a kennel in the garden.
Remember, even though your dog might have a naturally furry coat which provides him/her with some warmth and protection from the cold, the majority of domestic dogs struggle to cope in cold weather, especially those with short hair.
Here in Durban our weather is very seldom really cold, but just like us, animals feel the drop in temperatures, and could get sick if cold.
And we all know that it gets cold, especially in the evenings and early morning – not as cold as in Johannesburg of Bloemfontein, but the temperature drops significantly.
Know your Dog
To know the best practices for how to keep a dog warm in winter, you need to understand your dog. Some breeds—such as Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies—can spend more time outside in the winter and don’t really feel the cold. While Chihuahuas, Greyhounds and older and very young dogs may not be able to tolerate as much time outside.
So, know your dog and their tolerance to cold.
Dress them if you Need to
This is probably not really necessary in Durban, but just go slightly up-country, past Kloof/ Hillcrest and it gets significantly colder. So, if you have an older dog or one with short hair and they seem to be cold, get them a jersey. Smaller dogs and those with less fur may need a little help to keep warm. And remember, if you are cold, your dog probably is as well.
Don’t Leave Dogs Outside Alone for Long Periods
When it’s really cold, dogs shouldn’t stay outside for long periods of time. On cold days, limit outside trips to bathroom breaks and exercise, and shorten the walk, if necessary. Also, never leave a pet alone in a car, especially on very cold (or hot) days.
Give Them Shelter
If your dog spends a lot of time outside in the winter months, make sure you provide appropriate shelter. And the shelter should be secured to the ground, have a sloped roof and a soft place to sleep.
Outdoor kennels should also be raised off the ground even if just with bricks underneath and ensure that the timber is not damp and that the roof and walls are waterproof.
A warm soft bed in a kennel is a thank you to your best friend for their loyalty and love.
Invest in some warm and cuddly blankets for your dog to add extra warmth to the kennel.
A Tip: Using carpeting in your dog’s house is a great way to keep your dog warm and off of a cold floor. Btw. Make sure you nail this carpet down to stop your dog from dragging it out
Hang the blankets in the kennel out every few days to allow them to air so that they don’t stay damp. All this also helps to avoid flies.
Grooming and Feeding are Important
Make sure your dog is groomed for the cold weather. If your dog has long hair, then make sure it is unknotted and well groomed. Make sure that hair around the paws is cut shorter so that they do not have cold and wet paws when walking in wet grass or through frost.
Make sure your dog’s diet is right for winter.
If your dog is spending time outdoors in the cold winter weather, then chances are he is burning more calories to try and keep warm. This means that your dog needs more food in winter.
On the other hand, dogs who are spending more time indoors, might need less food as they are exercising less.
Outdoor dogs and cats actually burn off more calories in winter than they do in summer because they are trying to keep themselves warm so expect that they are going to be a little hungrier. Instead of giving more treats, increase the amount of food that they get in their evening meals allowing you to monitor how much they are eating more easily so that they don’t put on weight.
Easing Joint Pain
As dogs and cats age, they sometimes develop joint pain and arthritis which becomes more painful for them in cooler weather. Arthritis and joint pain are often difficult to identify in animals as it develops very slowly and they tend not to complain or show symptoms until it is quite bad.
Limping and difficulty in getting off a bed or up and down stairs is an obvious indicator of arthritis as is a reduced willingness to move and obvious pain after exercise. All of this is worsened when the animal has spent a long period of time lying in the same position on a cold floor, a hard surface or in a chilly kennel.
So, after visiting the vet and getting your pet checked out for arthritis, make sure he has a soft, warm dry bed at home.
Household Plastic stocks a range of pet supplies including kennels, blankets and bedding for dogs, large and small.