When it comes to keeping your pet warm and cosy in Winter, there are many factors to consider. The temperature outside is just one!
Your pet’s comfort in the colder months is affected by the temperature inside as well as outside your home. Factors like breed, size, age, health and coat all influence how warm and cosy your pet feels in Winter, or doesn't!
You can help...
Which pets feel the coldest?
The obvious answer is the hairless ones! Pets with short hair and thin skin also find it harder to keep warm. Thin pets in general too; pets with less body fat, feel cold more deeply, because fat is a natural insulator for all mammals.
For dogs, size is important. Small dogs feel cold more than large dogs because their high external to internal size ratio means they lose heat faster.
Very young and very old animals feel weather –hot or cold - more intensely, because they can’t regulate their own temperature as well as animals in their prime. Sick animals also have this problem and may need help keeping warm in Winter.
So what's the ideal temperature for your pet?
After reading the above, you've probably guessed that every pet has a different ‘comfort zone’ when it comes to warmth.
Cats tend to like it hot - even the furry ones! As any cat owner will tell you, they’ll find the warmest, cosiest place they can find to hang out in Winter.
For dogs, the thermoneutral zone is between 20-30°C, depending on the factors above. Higher or lower than these temperatures, temperature regulation and behaviours kick in.
How pets regulate for cold weather
Physiologically, some dog’s coats thicken in preparation for Winter, and some, like German Shepherds, even grow a ‘second coat.’
Not all pets have the luxury of a fur coat, but the fur they do have will stand on end, like human goose bumps, trapping air between the hairs and keeping their body warmer.
Internally, blood circulation moves away from the extremities and blood vessels near skin constrict, conserving energy and keeping the core temperature comfortable.
Behaviours that conserve or produce heat
Dogs and cats will naturally move toward warmth when needed. If you own several pets, you might see them huddle together to keep warm. They're more likely to snuggle up with you too!
You might notice your pets spend less time moving, playing or exercising; an instinctive way to conserve energy. They might need more food for the same reason.
Heat seeking seeking behaviours include more time in a cosy bed, lying in warm patches where sunlight streams in, on carpet, rugs and even in front of the family fireplace!
How you can help your pet keep warm in Winter
Know them. If your pet is short-haired, hairless, old, young, sick and especially if they have arthritis* chances are they’ll need some help keeping warm. Pet Mat can help!
Watch them! If they’re burrowing into blankets and furnishings or moving from room to room chasing the sun, chances are they’re cold!
We recommend creating a dedicated ‘snuggle spot’ for your pet
Set up your pet’s snuggle spot away from drafts and damp spots. Make sure it’s supported with blankets, padding (a pet mat!) and separated from the floor – especially if floors are hard and cold.
This gives your pet their very own safe, comfortable and totally cosy place to keep warm, especially when you’re not home. It also keeps them off beds and warm furnishings, and away from human heaters and fireplaces which can be drying and dangerous.
Unlike us, your pet can’t pull on the ugg boots, or get out the Winter woolies and hot soup. But you can keep them warm and toasty in Winter.
We hope these ideas help!
*Old and sick pets, including pets with arthritis, can benefit very much from warming devices like pet mat. However, if they are unable to lift or move themselves off their device/ bed, they should be monitored while using, and assisted to move as needed.
REFERENCES used in writing this article:
Animal Emergency Service. (2022). How to Keep Dogs and Cats Warm in Winter (top winter warming tips), from https://blog.animalemergencyservice.com.au/how-to-keep-dogs-cats-warm-in-winter, retrieved 6 April, 2022
Coates, J. (2016). How to Keep a Dog Warm in Winter Weather, Pet MD, https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/how-cold-too-cold-dog, retrieved 6 April 2022
Jordan, M., Bauer, A., E., Stella, J., Croney, C. (2016). Temperature Requirements for Dogs, Department of Comparative Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University, accessed from WWW.VET.PURDUE.EDU/CAWS, retrieved on 6 April 2022
Pet MD. (2018). How to Keep a Dog Warm in Winter Weather, Pet MD, https://www.petmd.com/dog/seasonal/how-keep-dog-warm-winter-weather, retrieved 6 April 2022
Sykes, R. (2020).Brrr it's cold outside! Top tips for pet owners this winter, RSPCA QLD, https://www.rspcaqld.org.au/blog/pet-care/tips-for-pets-owners-this-winter