Winter is a harsh unyielding season of unreasonably cold temperatures and cutting winds that freeze any exposed flesh.
Not only is this season hard for humans, it’s hard for our pets as well. To make this winter more bearable, here are some tips that will help your pets feel much more comfortable during this sub-zero season.
Winter care for dogs and cats is relatively intuitive. If you’re cold, they’re probably also cold. In sub-zero temperatures, make sure you keep your outdoor excursions relatively short (with the exception of cats who really should not be allowed outside unmonitored for any amount of time, but that’s a whole article by itself).
With winter and the freezing snows, something as simple as walking the dog can become incredibly daunting. There are a few methods to combat this. The first is purchasing a dog jacket or sweater. Though some see them as ridiculous, with many smaller or shorthaired breeds, these are the difference between a miserable hike through the frozen wasteland and a comfortable stroll through your winter wonderland. These can be found at almost any pet store, with dozens of brands providing their own styles (even Hudson’s Bay sells one).
Another purchase to consider is a set of dog booties. Another seemingly silly accessory, dog booties are a fantastic way to protect your dog’s soft paw pads from sharp ice, freezing snow, and even ice melting salt. These can also be found at almost any pet store.
Speaking of ice melting salt, many brands contain chemical agents in them that can be harmful to your pets, but also to children and the environment. When searching for ice melt, keep an eye out for brands that say “Pet Safe” on the label. There are many varieties, and again, this is something that can be found readily at most pet stores.
Something that can be readily found are heated cat beds. Like a heated blanket, these beds simply plug into the wall and make the soft rounded beds a wonderfully warm temperature that your cat will love snuggling into. Even though most heated bed products are going to be sized for cats, there’s no rule against buying one for your small or toy breed dog.
There are many misconceptions regarding reptile care during the winter months. The biggest and most dangerous one involves the idea that it’s perfectly natural and healthy for pet reptiles to go into “hibernation” during winter. In the wild, reptiles undergo periods of low activity and food consumption due to reduced temperatures. However, in captivity, reptiles should have access to constant heating, lighting, and access to food, so a need to undergo “hibernation” should be entirely unnecessary, and doing so can even harm their overall health. Remember, that reptiles in the wild live for only the fraction of the life span their captive counterparts enjoy.
When it comes to heat, different species require different temperatures to remain optimally healthy. There isn’t room in this article for me to post all of them, but luckily, there are hundreds of online sources that can help you with that, as well as experienced keepers who work at reputable pet stores.
No matter the species or temperature your pet requires, make sure you keep an eye on the heat in your reptile’s terrarium. Placing multiple thermometers may be necessary. Check them throughout the day, and even right before you go to bed at night, and as you wake up in the morning, to ensure the temperature remains within a healthy range.
For convenience sake, or to guarantee the temperatures remain perfect, there are many products that allow you to plug your heat source device into a thermostat that is set to turn off when the temperature is within the pre-determined range.
The safest heating devices are specialized heat bulbs, or fish tank heaters (for our aquatic reptilian friends like turtles). Many reptile owners use heating rocks in place of heat bulbs, but this can be dangerous as many reptiles can get burns on their abdomens from using them too long.