Most dogs and cats love the outdoors, but cold weather during the winter months can be uncomfortable or even dangerous for smaller animals. Keeping you outdoor pet warm and healthy during winter isn’t rocket science, but it does require a few extra steps to make sure they are comfortable and safe.
Dog kennel modifications. If your dog lives in an outdoor kennel, consider covering the top with a tarp to help insulate your pet from the rain and cold. You should also seal up any areas that might let cold drafts in. Keep the bedding slightly elevated to prevent it from sitting in puddled water or becoming frozen.
Dog beds. The more time your pet spends outside, the more important it is to invest in a good-quality dog bed. A good outdoor dog bed should be waterproof (at least on the bottom) and stain-resistant. Fleece, flannel and wool are all great bedding materials. If you have more than one dog, make sure you get a large bed they can share – their combined body heat will help keep them warm on cold winter nights.
Food and water. Keep in mind that dogs and other outdoor animals need extra food and plenty of fresh water during the winter months. Letting them put on just a little extra weight will help protect them from low temperatures.
Dog gates. Dog gates don’t keep your dog warm, necessarily, but they do keep him or her safe. Winter is the worst time to have a dog run away and become lost – if the dog doesn’t return or find immediate shelter, there is a good chance it may freeze to death or die of hypothermia. Double-check your dog gates at the beginning of winter to make sure they’re secure.
Of course, if the weather gets extremely cold, no gate or dog kennel will help. Move your dog indoors or, at the very least, into the garage.