Preparing your pets for the winter can be done with a short to-do list

Kaleah Mcilwain

Cold weather is on the horizon and it only promises to get colder as we settle into the winter months. While switching out your wardrobe and planning getaways is at the top of your to-do list, don’t forget about your pets and what they need.

Just like winter can be hard on humans, both cats and dogs can react strongly to changes in weather. Your pet's health, eating habits, and energy are all affected during this time so It’s best to be prepared.

Here’s how to prepare your pet for the winter.

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(Stephan Schulzpicture/Getty Images)

Stock the cupboards

When the temperatures drop, animals need more energy to maintain their body temperature. This means during the winter you may notice that your cat or dog is eating more to conserve energy and stay warm. You’ll want to stock up on your pet's food to account for this adjustment.

If you live in a temperature-controlled environment you may find that your pet’s eating habits haven’t really changed much. However, if you have a dog and walk them regularly, you’ll need to make sure they are keeping warm to withstand things like freezing rain and snow.

Bundle up

You wouldn’t dare go outside in 20 degree temperatures with no jacket, scarf, and gloves. The same goes for your pet. Contrary to popular belief, a dog’s and cat’s fur will not keep them warm.

There are a few ways to tell if your pet needs a sweater before you head out:

  • Miniature breeds
  • Dogs that sit low to the ground
  • Breeds that naturally have long hair but it’s been chopped off
  • Lean bodied breeds
  • Senior dogs

If your pet falls within these criteria then it is safe to say your best bet would be to put a fleece sweater on them before you head out for your walks. When picking one out be sure it extends from the base of their neck to the tail and make sure it is not too tight.

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(Lewis Geyer/Getty Images)

Pay a visit to the vet

Schedule an appointment for your pet to go to the veterinarian especially if they have any health issues. The winter months can be harder on pets who have things like arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease. These affect your pet's ability to do things like regulate their body temperature and walk comfortably.

If your pet has never shown any signs of having any underlying health conditions, you should still stay on the safe side and get them a check-up to be certain they are in perfect health.

Keep them active

There aren’t many people who love the cold weather and will spend just as much time outside during the winter as they did during the summer. With that being said, it’s normal to take your dog for shorter walks. However, in the winter since your pet is going to be eating more, you’ll want to make sure they are still getting enough exercise and don’t become obese.

Doing simple things like feeding them out of a feeding toy rather than just their bowl is a great way to stimulate them and get them moving around. This is also a great time to train your dog to do things like “stay” and “shake.”

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Journalist with a background reporting on local communities, now living in and reporting on the Baltimore area. Find me on twitter!

Baltimore, MD
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