Keeping your pet warm in winter is important for their health. Getting pooch a stylish jacket can help, but there’s more to keeping them warm. Our top tips tell you how…

Which dogs feel the cold?

Some dogs are more prone to the cold than others. Dogs with long fur are kept nicely insulated with their own built-in jumper, but those pets with short hair aren’t quite so lucky. Those prone to the cold include small dog breeds, toy dogs, short-haired or hairless dogs (like greyhound or Doberman) older and sick animals. Small dogs have a much larger surface area relative to their weight than larger dogs so lose heat at a much faster rate. Older animals are less active and have a slower metabolism, so generate less internal heat to keep themselves warm.

Red hot tips!

Invest in a jacket or jumper for your pooch. If they’re happy to wear one it can help a bit with the cold. Get one that covers the full length of the back to the base of the tail, with a high collar. But dogs lose most of their body heat through the pads of their feet, their ears and their respiratory tract so a jacket alone will not do the trick.
Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter as a longer coat will provide more warmth. If they end up clipped a tad too much, consider putting a jumper on them when they’re out, until the hair grows back a bit.

After bathing your pet, make sure it’s completely dry before going outside. Pets can catch a cold just like us.

Make sure you continue to exercise your pet in the winter. Unless the weather is particularly bad you should still try and stick to the regular walking routine. Dogs tend to eat more during winter to produce more energy to stay warm. More food and less exercise often means there’s a few pounds to shed by the time spring rolls round. As well as you wearing reflective clothes when you’re out walking, have a reflective collar and lead for the dog.

Never leave your dog off the lease in the snow or ice. They can lose their sense of smell and easily get lost.

Never leave your dog locked in the car in the winter. The car turns into a fridge when the engine and heat is off.

Make sure your pet has a warm and cosy bed. For indoor pets this is easy to do. You may even consider a heated dog bed for old or arthritic dogs. It’s more difficult to keep an outdoors animal warm. Line their kennel with old rugs and blankets to keep the wind and cold out. In very cold weather, it’s best to bring all the pets to sleep indoors.
If a dog is extra sensitive to the cold (e.g. puppy, older or sick dog) don’t force them outside unnecessarily. In extreme weather, only bring them outside to relieve them. Consider paper-training a puppy inside.

Caution cool fur cats! While cats generally cope well in the cold with their thick fur for insulation, sometimes outdoors cats sleep under the bonnet of cars for warmth (hint: cat hair on the underside of the bonnet is a clue). Make sure you bang on the car bonnet before starting your engine if there’s outdoor cats around. Cats can be injured or killed by the fan belt when the engine is turned on.