Don’t forget to grab a jacket—it’s getting chilly out there! The icy tundra of winter will be here before you know it. Pet parents get bundled up for winter walks, but what about our four-legged friends? We can’t speak with our pets, so many of us are left wondering whether our companions would appreciate some protection from the cold.
Boots and coats for pets are generally a good idea. Keep reading to see which of our furry friends would benefit from them the most.
Why pets need protection against the cold
For many people, cold weather can lead to dry, cracked skin on the hands. Pets are no different—all that prancing in the powdery snow can dry out their paw pads! Some paws get so cracked that they start to bleed. Booties minimize the damaging effects of cold weather on your pet’s paw pads and prevent the discomfort of stepping on frozen pavement with dried-out skin.
Salt and chemical de-icers cover the roads during winter. Unfortunately, these common winter substances are toxic to your pet’s health. Salt rubs into their cracked and bleeding paws, which is extremely painful. Chemical de-icers cling to the paw pads and can make your pet sick if they lick their paws clean. Consider outfitting your pup with a set of booties if you live in a city that requires these harmful materials in the cold months.
Additionally, there’s a difference between standing in the cold for a few minute and a few hours. Dogs usually don’t need a jacket or sweater for a quick potty break, but they’ll definitely want it for long play sessions or a trip to the dog park. Coats protect short-haired breeds from hypothermia, a condition that can quickly become serious.
Types of pets that need winter boots
Pet parents often question whether their furry friends actually need boots during the winter. Some cats and dogs are unbothered by the cold, while others won’t step foot outside without them!
Your four-legged friend needs booties if they fall into one or more of these categories:
- Long hair on the paws: Pets with super fluffy paws accumulate snow as they walk. That snow gets in between their toes and eventually freezes into ice. Ice causes a huge amount of discomfort and could even lead to frostbite. Cover up those furry toes so your pet can enjoy walks again!
- Refusal to walk on the pavement: For one reason or another, some pets simply don’t like walking on cold pavement. You can’t blame them—humans would never walk barefoot on the snow and ice! Finicky pets are more willing to embark on winter walks when they’re wearing a set of booties.
- Kidney disease: Salt sticks to paw pads and gets caught between the toes. Naturally, your pet will try to clean out the salt. This increases their sodium intake, which can have negative consequences for pets with kidney disease. Damaged kidneys require low sodium levels and plenty of drinking water. Boots can help you cut down on the amount of salt entering their body.
Types of pets that need a coat
Boots only protect the paws—a coat is what will keep your pet warm. Again, not all pets need a coat in the winter.
Consider buying one if your cat or dog can relate to any of the following factors:
- Short-haired and toy breeds: Pets with short hair don’t have enough insulation to retain their body heat in cold weather. Toy and lean-bodied breeds aren’t designed to tough out harsh winter conditions because they lack the layers of fat seen in larger dogs. Similarly, long-haired breeds need a coat if they’ve been groomed to have short hair. A coat that’s snug against the body insulates their core and makes winter walks more tolerable.
- Dogs with short legs: A pet that’s closer to the ground runs the risk of snow brushing along their belly fur. All that fluffy hair that’s supposed to keep your pet insulated has now left them feeling damp and chilly! Coats put a barrier between your pup and the snow to help keep them dry.
- Chronic health conditions: Lifelong illnesses such as diabetes, hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease create symptoms like cold intolerance. Pets who have been diagnosed with one of these health conditions would benefit from a winter coat because it will help regulate their internal temperature. Seniors pets may also have trouble regulating their temperature. They might need a sweater indoors, too!
Your pet might need boots and a winter coat even if they don’t fall into one of the categories discussed here. Always pay attention to their body language in order to determine whether they need cold weather protection. If your furry companion is shivering and lifting their paws, get them geared up for the cold!