Winter can be a stressful time for our dogs and cats. Especially when they need to stay outside for awhile. Keeping them comfortable when the temperatures drop presents some specific challenges we should address.
It always seems strange to me that you can get dehydrated when there is snow and ice all around. However, keeping your animals hydrated during the winter is very important. The largest challenge we encounter when trying to keep our animals hydrated is the temperature of the water. Most dogs and cats will drink less water if it is very cold or near freezing. If the water is too warm, then it turns into a mini hot tub, and splashing around will become the priority. You might consider a thermostatically controlled dish for the winter months. These bowls need to be plugged in, and they only turn on when the temperatures start getting close to freezing. Just like any other time of the year, it is still a good idea to change their water frequently.
This may seem like a given, but keep the following things in mind when considering a new outdoor shelter for your animals. One important consideration is the size and location of the opening into the shelter. Preferably, the entrance will be off-center; this will reduce the airflow into the house and keep warm air inside. Another consideration is that dogs and cats tend to sleep in a curled-up position, so you’ll want to make sure they have plenty of floor space. This will assure they’re comfortable and able to retain more body heat.
A common and very natural thought when choosing bedding for an outdoor pet house will be to get a huge cushy pillow. While humans find this very comfortable, dogs and cats prefer very minimal bedding. Also, many dogs will tend to pull large pillow type beds out of their house, as they tend to overheat. Thinner pads will allow your pet to self-regulate their body temps.