How to Keep Felines and Equines Safe This Winter!

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Keep Your Feline Safe in Winter

Welcome to the second part of keeping your pet healthy, happy, and safe this winter!

This new post focuses on protecting the well-being of our cats and horses.

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Winter’s cold and dry air can lead to dry and itchy skin for your pet. Regular grooming helps stimulate and distribute natural oils in their skin.

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As we mentioned in our first blog (protecting dogs), our pets depend upon us to ensure their health, comfort, and safety. Despite their fur coats, our pets are still challenged by the cold and wet of winter.

It’s critical to educate ourselves about the winter challenges for our pets. Keep reading to learn the tips for protecting both cats and horses during the winter months.

The Rules of Winter: Cats

Never leave your feline out all winterIf you allow your feline to roam outside during the winter months, always watch the time (keep it short) and monitor their reactions to the cold. Do not let them out during the coldest times of the day or night.

Domestic felines (as opposed to feral felines) do not have coats to adequately protect them in the winter months.

  • Never leave your family cat outside all winter (even with a shelter).
  • Frostbite: Cats are highly susceptible to frostbite on their ears, nose, tail, and toes. Affected areas will be pale or bluish-white in color.Cats are very susceptible to frostbite! Immediately get your cat to your vet!
  • Hypothermia: If your feline begins to shiver outside, bring them inside immediately to prevent life-threatening hypothermia. Towel-dry them including paws and toes.

Other signs of hypothermia may include unusual anxiety; crying; or lethargy.

NOTE: If your cat does not stop shivering in a reasonable amount of time, call or take your cat to your veterinarian!

  • Paws & Toes: Check between the toes for frozen snow or ice, dirt, orUse olive oil or petroleum jelly on kitty paws rock salt (you don’t want your cat licking any de-icing agents or chemicals). Also, check the paws for cracks and cuts. Massage moisturizing petroleum jelly or olive oil into your feline’s paws and between the toes.

 AVOID cortisone cream, tea tree oil, or other essential oils on your cat’s paws without checking with your vet first!

  • Lean Protein: If your indoor cat spends regular time outside, feed them more lean protein.
  • Dry, Flaky, and Itchy Skin: Add a small amount of olive to the food (less is more to avoid an upset stomach). Using a home humidifier can also help.
  • Holiday Risks: During the holidays, remember holly and mistletoe are toxic to cats (and dogs).

The Rules of Winter: Horses

  • Shelter: During the winter, horses need access to a barn; or at aHorses need shelter and dry blankets during winter minimum, a three-sided structure to protect themselves.
  • Horse Blankets: Well-fitted blankets keep horses warm and dry.
    • Blanket horses in potential rain, ice, and/or freezing rain. But never put a blanket on a wet horse.
    • Body-clipped equines should be blanketed throughout the winter season.
    • Blankets should be used on very young/very old equines or those not yet acclimated to the cold.
    • Horses with a body condition score of three or less should always be blanketed.
  • Unfrozen Water: Ensure your horse’s access to unfrozen water. Horses need more water during the winter to prevent dehydrationHorses need more water during winter and colic.
    • Heated water buckets, water heaters, or de-icers will keep water from freezing. The University of Minnesota recommends warm water between 45° and 65° F. (Snow and ice are not adequate sources for water.)

Use the Henneke Body Condition Scoring for your Horse

  • Winter Feeding: By feeding your horse more (even unlimited) forage, they will create more heat and efficiently regulate their body temperature.
  • Special Care: If your horse requires special care during the summer months, that same care needs to be continued through the winter.
  • Equine Skin Care: Horses are prone to skin problems during the winter including ringworm, lice, and mites. To learn more, click here: The Horse, “Winter Skin Problems.
  • Hoof Care: Keep up routine hoof care during the winter; including:
    • Trimming: Every 6 to 12 weeks.
    • Daily Picking: To remove packed ice or snow.

Hoof care is still critical during winter months


Additional Reading:

Five Ways to Protect Pets This Winter

Tips for Protecting Your Cat This Winter

Top 10 Winter Skin and Paw Care Tips

How to Care for a Cat’s Paws

Caring for Your Horse in the Winter

Tips to Protect Your Horse’s Skin in All Kinds of Weather

Winter Skin Problems

Under, Over, or Ideal (Henneke Body Condition Scoring Scale)

Image Credits (in the order shown):

Image by Lenka Novotná from Pixabay

Image by Lisa Johnson from Pixabay

Image by rihaij from Pixabay

Image by nile from Pixabay

Image by agnesliinnea from Pixabay

Image by filinecek from Pixabay

Image from Blog.smartpakequine.com

Image by rihaij from Pixabay

Product Images are Courtesy of EquiGroomer

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