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A coat for your pet is not just a fashion statement, it is a safety measure. Even with shaggy fur coats your pets can still suffer the impacts of cold weather.

Just like people, your pets all react to cold differently depending on age, breed, and size. Like most seniors, older cats and dogs have a hard time maintaining body heat. Meanwhile, puppies and kittens shouldn’t be outside in the frigid air even when well-dressed because they don’t have the fat, metabolism, or the full fur coat they need to stay warm when temperatures plunge.

Of course, it’s not a good idea to shave your dog’s coat during colder seasons. The fur helps keep your pet comfortable so just wait until spring to give Fifi a new do.

Winston in red sweater
Winston in red sweater

A fabric coat or knit sweater for your pet can be fashionable and warm. Add a reflective collar or some reflective accents on the covering to make it easier to spot you and your dog on the dawn and dusk patrols. Take the coat off as soon as your pet comes inside and never leave a wet coat on your pet otherwise they will get chilled from the damp material and you’ll have defeated the purpose of the protective garment.

When it’s cold or wet out, veterinarians say it’s vital to keep young, old, and sick pets indoors. If the temp is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s too cold for pets to be left outside for extended periods and below 32 degrees is when frostbite occurs. It’s up to you to watch the thermometer and keep your pet warm and snug.

Rather than chilly hours in the yard unattended, keep those outdoor breaks short, just 10-15 minutes for a romp 3 or 4 times a day is a better option. When it is cold, watch your pet closely for signs of distress which may include shivering, lethargy, disorientation, and whining. If you think your pet is hypothermic, call your vet to determine the best way to warm them up.

While you can’t bundle up your outdoor pets, expect to add 10-15% more food in the winter. Birds (and squirrels) love to get peanut butter and suet when it is cold outside and those extra calories may help maintain their body heat.

Thankfully, we in NC don’t have to contend with severe and lengthy bitter cold seasons like other parts of the country. Our cold snaps may be brief but our concern for every pet’s well-being is for all seasons.

Happy Pet! Happy Home!


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