"Baby, it's cold outside!"
According to the weather reports, it seems metro Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster and Coquitlam will experience colder than usual temperatures again this winter. And while these temperatures are nothing close to what people experience in the prairie or eastern provinces, it definitely cold to us! And for our pets. Cold weather can be difficult because cats and dogs cannot “instantly” grow more fur. To help your pets get throught the cold weather, and stay healthy, here are some winter-proofing tips for pet owners.
Is your pet outdoors most of the day?
If your cat or dog spends most of their day outside, then they need protection – an insulated place just large enough so that he can curl up to keep warm. For the Pacific Northwest, this means protection from ALL the elements – rain, snow, wind and sun – because we do experience all of these, sometimes within one 24 hour period! This is especially important when temperatures dip quickly as they have here in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver this past week – ensuring that your pet has shelter for the day will ensure they are warm.
My cats are ALWAYS asking for food. But right now, it’s urgent. MEEEEOOOOOWWWWW!!!!! And that is because they are outdoors burning calories keeping warm. At times like this it is ok to give them extra food to cover the extra energy they need to keep warm outdoors. If you’re not sure how much – contact the staff at Burnaby New West Animal Hospital, Highlands Animal Hospital or West End Veterinary Clinic to ask them. They’ll be happy to help.
Remember that when the weather warms up, you’ll need to cut back to the normal amount of food.
The places cats will hide
It’s an old winter trick that many of us may not remember – thump the hood of your car before starting it when the weather is really cold. Look underneath the car as well. Cats and other critters may cuddle up to the engine for warmth at night (after you have parked the car). A quick bang on the hood should scare them out of their hiding place.
Cold affects the joints
Winter can bring discomfort to anyone experiencing joint pains – especially older pets. If your pet is having difficulty moving, climbing stairs, or walking then it may be time to look at supplements or medications to reduce joint pain in the winter months. “Keeping your pet at a healthy weight can be one of the best things for joint pain” recommends Dr. Gilbert of Burnaby New Westminster Animal Hospital.
Sweaters and coats for dogs?
Some animals really can use the extra insulation of a well-fitted sweater: older pets, and dogs who are tiny (such as Chihuahuas), or who are shorthaired and naturally lean (such as greyhounds or whippets). Overcoats can save you time drying your dog if you walk in inclement weather, especially if your pet's longhaired. And don't forget to wipe your pets' feet, legs and belly after they've been outside to keep the animal from ingesting any de-icing solutions.
Because home heating systems can dry out the air, you and your pets may be more comfortable if you introduce some humidity. Birds, especially those species originating in tropical climates, will enjoy extra opportunities for bathing or being misted.