The temperatures are falling, mostly it’s wet, gray and sometimes even snow is falling: winter is here! Not only do we humans have to adapt to the cold and often uncomfortable season – measures can and should also be taken with our pets. We’ll tell you what to look out for.
Dog Coat – Yes or No?
While many dog owners claim that a dog coat in winter is just a kind of fashion accessory, a warm and functional coat can be quite useful for some dogs. Some breeds such as Weimaraners, Dobermans, or American Staffordshire Terriers only have a very short coat and therefore no warming undercoat. But even dogs with long fur can freeze – for example after being clipped or after a long tour in the cold when they got wet. Puppies and old dogs should also be protected from strong temperature fluctuations in order not to stress the immune system too much and to prevent diseases. In general, if your fur nose is tense in cold weather, pulls your back or tail up, trembles, or does not want to leave the house at the temperatures, he will freeze and you should take remedial action. With a dog’s coat, it is important that it also covers the dog’s belly, which is usually not very hairy. In addition, the neck, legs, and tail should be free. The neck can and should be protected by a collar. The material is also important: this should be waterproof. Homemade models may be chic, but they soak up water.
No Snowball Fight with the Dog
Even if it is fun to play in the snow: You should better avoid a snowball fight. The dogs like to catch snowballs, of course, but the swallowed snow can lead to stomach cramps, gastrointestinal infections, diarrhea, and vomiting too quickly.
Paw Care in Winter
Road salt can attack the paws of our four-legged friends. You should therefore check your dog’s paws after every walk. The best preparation for the harsh winter season is regular maintenance before the cold season. Those who start the winter with healthy paws are much better equipped. If you have a long-haired four-legged friend, you should definitely think about having the fur sheared between the paws. Otherwise, painful and annoying clumps of snow can form on the dog’s paws during walks. Due to the relatively high risk of injury, you shouldn’t do the clipping yourself, but rather have it done in a dog salon or by a veterinarian.
In addition, it makes sense to lay the walking routes in winter in such a way that the dog has to walk as seldom as possible on strewn areas. Of course, you shouldn’t neglect your own safety. Since an encounter with road salt and grit can usually not be completely avoided, especially in the city, dog paws need particularly intensive care in winter. Before every walk they should therefore be creamed – deer tallow ointment or milking fat from the drugstore are suitable for this, but also special paw care creams and sprays from pet shops. Oily creams form a protective film on the skin and protect against irritation and injuries.
Cats in Winter: Even Outdoor Cats Freeze
Even if the cats are used to being outside: Outdoor cats freeze in cold temperatures. That is why it makes sense to install a cat flap so that your cat can get back into the warm quickly and easily if necessary. If a cat flap is not an option, there are alternatives: For example, you can place a basket with pillows and blankets in the garage. Important, even if it is meant well: Do not put your cat on a coat in winter and do not wear collars. This allows the four-legged friends to quickly get caught on branches and protruding objects. Even in summer, this is not good, but in winter it is all the more devastating because there is a risk of frostbite!
When the temperatures drop, your cat’s energy needs also increase. Therefore, you should make sure that your darling gets enough high-energy cat food. It is quite normal for the animals to eat a little more than usual in winter. It is also important that the cat has access to ice-free water if it is very cold. A heat source such as a pocket warmer under the bowl will slow down the freezing process.
Tips for Small Animals and Birds
Not only for humans but also for numerous ornamental birds and small animals begins a hard time with winter: They are no longer allowed outside and are instead exposed to the dry air in heated living spaces. In addition, many birds, for example, come from the south and are not used to the dark and cold season in Europe.
Modern heating devices mean that the air in the room is usually very dry, which can be problematic not only for us humans but also for pets: The low humidity makes the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract dry out more easily and humans and animals are more susceptible to infections. A humidity between sixty and seventy percent would be ideal.
One idea to optimize the room climate can be to hang up so-called evaporators, which can be attached directly to the radiator. Caution is advised here, however, as these aids tend to mold quickly and spread mold spores in the warm air. You can just as easily fill ceramic or clay bowls with water and place them on the radiator. They are much easier to clean.
Of course, a species-appropriate and healthy diet plays an important role all year round. In winter in particular, however, it is particularly important to provide the animals with a sufficient amount of fruit and vegetables and thus cover their vitamin requirements holistically. If you are dealing with a real fruit grouch, vitamin supplements may also be fed. Of course, you always have to make sure that you never exceed the prescribed maximum daily dose.
This is How Fish Survive in Winter
When the thermometer slips into the minus range, a layer of ice forms on ponds and lakes. Of course, this can also affect your own pond in the garden. But what should you watch out for when keeping fish in your pond? In general, fish become more sluggish as temperatures fall, as the temperature of their blood falls with the outside temperature. If they get too cold, they go into a freeze. They only wake up from this in the spring. Goldfish can hibernate in the pond if it is at least 80 cm deep. Exotic fish, on the other hand, have to be relocated to an aquarium. Here the water temperature may only be increased slowly. It is best to use a lot of pond water at the beginning, which is gradually replaced.
You should also make sure that you clean the pond thoroughly and remove dead plants and leaves. Important: Aquatic plants and reeds must remain, as they ensure the important gas exchange. You should also make sure that the pond is adequately supplied with oxygen and never completely freezes over. Please never punch a hole in the ice cover – this can destroy the fish’s sense of direction and lead to death.
This is How You Recognize a Cold in the Animal
The throat is sore, the nose is runny and you want to crawl into bed: hoarseness, runny nose, and sore throat are usually the first harbingers of a cold for us. Sick pets have very similar symptoms. Often you can recognize the onset of a cold in animals by the fact that your four-legged friends are noticeably tired and show a reduced appetite. Frequent sneezing, breathing noises and watery eyes also occur. Not only dogs and cats but also small animals and birds can catch a cold. Please always keep in mind that exhaustion and refusal to eat can also indicate other serious and in some cases even life-threatening illnesses. As soon as the symptoms persist for a long time, you should therefore definitely consult a veterinarian. If you have a mild cold, there is a chance that it will go away on its own. However, this takes time and rest. With a sick dog, you shouldn’t take long walks in the cold, but rather do smaller laps. If it is raining or snowing, you should rub it dry with a towel afterward. The same goes, of course, for cats with free access who come home drenched. Dry heating air can make symptoms worse for all pets. If there is heating, you can hang up wet towels or set up an indoor fountain to increase the humidity in the room. If the symptoms do not improve or even worsen, a visit to the vet is inevitable.