According to Farmer’s Almanac forecasts, winter 2022-2023 in Connecticut will be snowier and colder than usual. Patch.com’s Rich Kirby says, “If the Farmers are on the money, plan on it being bitterly cold after the first of the year. Make sure while the weather is still nice that your snowblower is in good working order, too. You’ll likely need it.” This got us thinking about keeping pets warm this time of year.
Pets Feel Cold
Depending on the length of their hair, their type of hair or fur, and even their age and weight, pets feel cold even if we’re toasty warm.
Most human clothing is created with the weather in mind and made of moisture-wicking materials and thermal fabrics. Our pets don’t have that luxury unless they are wearing winter-specific equipment. Because heat rises, pets that lay in beds and crates on the floor might be more susceptible to drafts and chills this time of year.
Susceptible Pet Populations
We recently shared some tips for winter weather equipment that dogs would benefit from when outdoors for extended periods of time. Today, however, our focus is on keeping pets comfortable indoors.
Neonatal kittens, especially those without a mama to keep them warm, are housed in small crates together with their litter mates and in temperature-controlled environments. They need heating pads set to a low yet constant temperature because they cannot control their body temperatures. The same is true for geriatric pets and those with certain degenerative or terminal conditions who quickly lose muscle mass and fat. Finally, hairless pets and miniature breeds with very short hair might also be more susceptible to cold and cold injury.
Keeping Pets Warm
While most healthy adult cats and dogs can easily seek out warm spots this time of year, it’s nice to consider where they are most comfortable and move their resting spots accordingly. If your pet is kept out of a sunroom in the summer, consider placing their bed there in the winter. If your pet has a window seat that faces north, consider moving it to a south or east-facing direction to ensure they get sun as soon as daylight breaks. Putting a little thought into the location of our pet’s beds, considering the type of flooring nearby, and maybe adding blankets to create layers of warmth can be excellent ways to ensure pets’ comfort while also keeping heating expenses low.
Sweaters and hoodies are popular pet items, but remember that not all pets will be comfortable wearing clothing. And, wet clothing can freeze and cause discomfort or injury.
Space Heaters, Heating Pads, and Heated Blankets for Pets
One of our geriatric dog friends, Titan, has a degenerative condition called Degenerative Myelopathy. At 15 years old, he is still healthy and active but has lost a significant amount of weight, making him more susceptible to drops in temperature. His family placed a small space heater in his favorite room of the house. The heater is only kept on whenever someone is home because these devices should be turned off (ideally unplugged) when unattended. Titan loves his space heater. He also seems to be walking better than he was before his family placed the heater in his room. Cold temperatures can cause pets to feel stiff and can aggravate symptoms of arthritis therefore managing temperatures for aging pets can improve their quality of life.
Heating pads and heated blankets are also popular with many pet lovers. Many cat owners swear by heated cat beds year-round. Jessica Dwyer Bartlett, founder of the Cat Lover’s Academy swears by K&H Pet Products Heated Thermo-Kitty Mats. As she explained on Covered in Pet Hair, Jessica and her husband John initially purchased their K&H heated mat to use during the winter, but they soon gained notoriety from their cat crew and are now used daily.
Whether designed for pets or general home use, heated elements are wonderful options to keep pets warm. They must, however, be used properly to prevent fires and accidents. Following are some top tips to prevent accidents while using small heating electronics:
- Read all manufacturer’s instructions and safety warnings before using portable heaters
- Keep open fire from fireplaces and chimneys at least 3-feet away from all electronics
- Keep anything combustible like bedding, pillows, and curtains at least 3-feet away
- Do not block the heater’s intake or outlet
- Keep all flammable items away from space heaters and similar electronics
- Turn off portable heaters when leaving the room and/or home
- Never plug a space heater into a power strip, extension cord, or “multi-plug;” plug them directly into an outlet
- Do not overload extension cords or outlets
- Do not place electrical cords under rugs or low-clearance furniture
- Dispose of older, fraying extension cords and equipment that is visibly damaged
- Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors regularly
We at Shoreline Happy Paws ask that you please inform us if you’re using portable heating devices in your home. That way, we will know to check on the device and bring any concerns to your attention. Many heating appliances are now on timers and automatically turn off but everyone should be on the same page when it comes to these appliances for both our safety and that of your pet and home. To learn more about our pet sitting services and how we go above and beyond to ensure your pets’ comfort and safety during all visits, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-964-0464.