Fall's here - are your pets ready? - Dr. Marty Becker

Fall’s here – are your pets ready?

Thursday, Oct 16th, 2014 | By Dr. Marty Becker

Pets seem to enjoy fall as much, if not more, than we do. They all seem to perk up as the evenings get cooler. With their incredible eyesight, cats find interest in the early darkness, and dogs love being able to go for walks without enduring the heat.

We need to remember, though, that fall means winter is coming, and we must remind ourselves of what that means when it comes to caring for our pets.

When I was growing up, pets spent most if not all their lives outside. In my lifetime, they’ve gone from the barnyard to the backyard to the back porch to the bedroom. That old saying about “being in the dog house”? In our family, “the dog house” is the same one we enjoy, and that’s true of most people these days.

But some people still do have outside pets, and for them more than any others, the shift to colder weather means they need you to look out for them and make sure they’re ready for the change.

All animals must be able to get out of the elements. A pet must have a well-insulated structure just large enough so that he can curl up inside to maintain body heat. The structure should also have a wind-block to protect it from wintry blasts. In the coldest parts of the country, it should also have some sort of outdoor-rated pet-heating pad or other device. And be sure that there’s always a supply of fresh, unfrozen water by using a heated bowl.

Animals who spend any significant amount of time outside will need more calories during cold weather. Food is fuel, and they’ll need to burn it to stay warm.

I’d prefer you make your pets part of the family by bringing them inside. But if you can’t, you certainly must pay attention to their changing needs regardless.

Get my tips for indoor pets, and more, in this week’s Pet Connection!