When the trees turn bare, the skies darken, and wintertime rolls around, pet owners everywhere begin to worry about how to keep their furry friends comfortable and warm – especially in a cost-of-living crisis. Despite their fluffy coats, our beloved pets can feel the chill of the colder months just like we humans do. So, as pet owners, we need to make sure that our furry family members are well-protected from the harsh elements.
How to Tell if Your Dog is Cold
Unlike humans, dogs can’t just tell us when they’re cold. It's up to us pet owners to pay extra special attention to their body language and behavior and work it out for ourselves. If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve got you covered. Here are some of the most obvious signs that can indicate your dog might be cold.
- Shivering - Just like humans, dogs shiver when they're cold. Whether you’re outside or inside, this is a clear sign you need to warm your dog up!
- Whining or barking - Some dogs may vocalize their discomfort when they're too cold. This might come with other signs, too, such as shivering.
- Anxious behavior - If your dog seems anxious or uncomfortable, they might be cold, especially if there’s no other obvious reason that might be causing their anxiety. Some signs include restlessness, pacing, or having trouble settling down.
- Tucking of the tail - Dogs often tuck their tails between their legs when they're cold or scared.
- Hunching - If your dog is trying to retain heat, they may hunch over and keep their paws off the ground as much as possible.
- Seeking Shelter - If your dog is constantly seeking out warmer places or curling up in blankets, it's a sure sign they're trying to keep warm, and you need to help them out.
How to Keep Your Dog Warm Outside
Even when the temperature drops and the frost sets in, your dog will need to exercise and do their business. However, taking your dog outside in the winter may require some extra precautions to keep them nice and toasty.
Try Clothing Made For Dogs
Invest in a good-quality, waterproof winter coat or sweater for your dog. Make sure it fits well, covering the neck, belly, and back without restricting movement. It’s important to strike a balance. If the material is too tight, it will be uncomfortable for your dog, but if it’s too loose, it won’t be able to hold in the heat your dog needs to keep warm.
Dog boots can protect your dog's paws from cold surfaces, ice, and harmful de-icing chemicals that can hurt them. If your dog refuses to wear boots, you could also use paw balm to protect their sensitive pads.
Limit Exposure to the Elements
If the weather is extremely icy, you may want to keep walks shorter than usual. However, it’s still important to give your furry friend enough time to stretch their legs and do their business. Choose the warmest part of the day for outdoor activities, such as mid-afternoon. If you want to avoid the coldest parts of the day, avoid taking your dog out for early morning or late evening walks.
Wet weather can make the cold even more unbearable for our pets, clinging to their coats and seeping through their fur. To stop your dog from getting too cold in wet weather, towel off any moisture on their coat and paws as soon as you both come inside. Get them near a heater so their coat will dry as quickly as possible.
How to Keep Your Dog Warm at Night
During the day, we can keep our heating on and warm the house. But what about when the temperature drops at night, and you still want to keep your dog warm? Here are a few tips and tricks you can use to keep the cold at bay on those frosty winter nights.
Provide a warm, comfortable bed that keeps your dog off the floor, especially if you have laminated or wooden flooring, as this tends to be much colder than carpets. If it’s possible, try levitating the bed slightly, as this will protect your pet from cold drafts that come from the floor. We also recommend adding extra blankets for your dog to burrow into and help retain heat.
A lightweight sweater or pajamas can provide extra warmth for dogs, especially if you have a short-haired breed, such as a Chihuahua, Beagle, or Great Dane. Older dogs may also struggle to keep warm, so it’s important to make sure they’re well looked after, too.
For extra chilly nights, a heated dog bed can offer comforting warmth. It’s important to make sure any heated product is specifically designed for pets and always follow the manufacturer's safety instructions.
Keep your dog's bed in a warm room, away from drafty windows or doors. A space heater can add extra warmth, but ensure it's pet-safe and never leave it on unattended, as that can harm both your and your dog’s safety.
How to Tell if Your Cat is Cold
Cats are quite adept at finding cozy spots to curl up in, but during the colder months, they may need extra help to stay warm. Knowing how to tell if your cat is cold is crucial for their comfort and health. Unlike dogs, cats may not shiver visibly when cold, but they do exhibit other signs that can indicate discomfort from lower temperatures. Here are key indicators to watch for:
- Seeking heat - All cat owners understand that cats like to sit in strange places. But if your cat is always seeking out warm places such as sunny windowsills, heating vents, or electronic devices that generate warmth, it’s a sign they might be feeling the cold.
- Curled-up position - Cats curl up into tight balls to conserve body heat when they feel cold. If you notice your cat is curling up tightly, especially in colder parts of the house, it could be their attempt to keep warm.
- Hunched with tucked paws - A cold cat may sit hunched over with their paws tucked underneath their body. This posture minimizes the surface area they’re exposed to and helps them conserve heat.
- Less active - Cold temperatures can lead to decreased activity levels in cats. If your cat is less playful or moves around less than usual, it could be because they are trying to conserve energy due to feeling cold.
- Fluffed-up fur - Our feline friends may puff up their fur to trap air and create an insulating layer around their bodies. If you notice your cat’s fur seems fluffier than usual, they might be trying to keep warm.
- Seeking shelter or hiding - Cats seeking extra warmth might hide in cozy, enclosed spaces like under the bed, inside closets, or anywhere that's away from drafts and cold floors. But keep in mind that cats like their space, too – so they may just be trying to find some peace and quiet.
- Cold ears and paws - Feeling your cat's ears and paws can give you a clue about their body temperature.
- Changes in sleeping locations - A cat that is feeling the cold may change their usual sleeping spot to warmer locations around the house. If your cat suddenly prefers sleeping in spots they’ve previously ignored, it might be because these spots are warmer.
- Vocalization - Some cats may become more vocal when they’re uncomfortable, and this includes being cold. If your cat is meowing more than usual and it’s colder in your home, they might be trying to tell you they need warming up!
How to Keep Your Cat Warm in the House
Cats are known for seeking out cozy spots, especially during the colder months. However, during winter, our feline friends might need a little extra help to stay warm and comfortable. To keep your cat warm in the house, you need to create a warm environment, provide appropriate bedding, and monitor their comfort levels.
Here are some tips to make sure your cat stays as snug as a bug in a rug.
Provide Warm Bedding
Cats love to perch in high places, so it might be worth investing in an elevated bed. Not to mention, this type of bedding will keep your cat away from cold drafts on the floor. Make sure to choose a cat bed with sides for them to snuggle against and retain body heat.
Just like with dogs, you can also purchase a heated cat bed. These beds are designed specially for safe heating. They can be particularly comforting for older cats or those with arthritis who will feel the cold more or may be in pain due to the winter weather. However, it’s important you make sure to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure your pet's safety.
Soft, warm blankets in your cat’s favorite lounging spots can make a huge difference to their body temperature and comfort.
Create Warm Spaces
Cats naturally gravitate towards warmth, so make sure they have access to sunny windowsills or spots where sunlight enters the house during the day. They will move with the sun as it shifts, soaking up the natural warmth.
We also recommend keeping your cat's bed or favorite sleeping area away from drafts. Placing it in a warmer room or near a heat source (but not too close to direct heat) can help. You can also try thermal mats that reflect your cat's body heat back to them, helping to keep them warm when temperatures get particularly icy.
Monitor Indoor Temperature
Making sure your house is warm is essential for keeping your cat comfortable, especially when they are left alone. Cats are good at finding warm spots, but they shouldn't have to endure a chilly house.
Dry air can make the cold feel even colder. Try using a humidifier, as this can help maintain a comfortable level of humidity in your home, making it feel warmer for both you and your cat.
Many cats prefer sleeping in enclosed spaces because it helps them retain body heat. A cat igloo or a covered bed can provide the perfect retreat for your cat to stay warm. If that won’t do the trick, cats also love boxes and baskets, and these can be turned into cozy hideaways with the addition of plenty of warm blankets or bedding.
Clothing for Cats
While not all cats will tolerate clothing, some may accept a light sweater or jacket, especially if they are elderly or have thin fur. Make sure any clothing is comfortable, fits well, and doesn't restrict movement or the ability to use the litter box. But don’t worry – we’re sure your cat will soon let you know if they don’t like it.
Psst... it's not just your cat who needs to keep warm and happy! Looking for gifts for cat lovers? We've got you covered.
Keep Them Active
Keeping your cat active indoors can help maintain their body temperature and work off all that extra energy from being stuck in the house. Play with toys, laser pointers, or feather wands to encourage movement and exercise. Even stroking and petting them can make a huge difference to their internal warmth.
If you’ve tried all our tips and your cat still can’t seem to get warm, consider taking them to the vet. Regular veterinary check-ups are vital to ensure your cat isn't cold due to underlying health issues. Older cats, in particular, may have difficulty regulating their body temperature and could require additional attention to stay warm.
Your pet doesn’t have to suffer in winter. By preparing them to brave the outdoor weather and making sure their sleeping environment is nice and warm, you can keep your animal companion comfortable and happy all season long. Remember, each pet is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Pay attention to your pet’s cues and adjust your warming strategies as needed to keep your furry friend snug during those icy cold months.