We’re already saying goodbye to the Summer’s sun and waking up to colder mornings. Gone are the later evenings where you can make the most out of the evening sunshine and instead, you get home and it’s already getting dark. The colder months don’t just have an impact on us but on our pets too. All of our furry family members will notice a difference. Dogs will be getting their walks earlier in the day while it’s still light or braving nighttime walks in the cold before going home to warm up. Cats that will spend all day outside in the Summer might not even want to step foot outside to brave the cold and the rain.
There are lots of things we can do to keep our pets nice and warm but it doesn’t just stop at cats and dogs, our smaller pets are in need of a little TLC throughout the Winter to stay warm too.
How being cold affects your small pets
Smaller pets don’t tend to enjoy the cold. While they can survive during the colder months like rabbits that are used to living outside all year around, it doesn’t mean they thrive. Just like us, they don’t enjoy the shorter days, the longer stretches of dark and fewer opportunities to run around in the sunshine. Even our smallest critters like hamsters will hide away in the Winter to avoid getting cold. While most of our four-legged friends have ways to warm up when cold like shivering, they should not stay cold for any long periods. If a hamster gets too cold, they go into a state of hibernation where they bunker down in their bed and their heart rate slows to a snail’s pace. Hamsters do not hibernate like other species such as bears do, they only enter the state when food is scarce or the temperature drops too low.
When animals stay cold for long periods, their immune system will start to struggle to keep them healthy and their energy will go towards trying to keep warm which makes them more susceptible to getting sick. It’s important during the colder months to make sure they are kept nice and warm.
Ways to keep them warm
There are a few different ways to keep your small furries warm this winter. One of the easiest ways to make sure they won’t catch a chill is to house them inside while it’s cold. Even with the protection of a garage, it can help to keep the worst of the cold out. Better yet, while you’re heating your home and keeping yourself warm, if they’re in the house with you they can stay warm too.
When taking animals inside that usually live outside, be sure to slowly allow them to acclimate to being inside. If you just take a rabbit or a guinea pig from outside into the house they can have a shock at the temperature change or get stressed because of the unfamiliar surroundings so may just be better off outside with some extra ways to stay nice and cosy when it gets chilly.
Bedding (for all small pets)
When it’s cold out, taking a look at the bedding options your furry friend has is a good start to keeping them warm. It might be a case of just adding an extra thick layer to their house or even changing out the substrate for something cosier. If you use a substrate like wood pellets, they might be great for absorbing mess and make cleaning them out easy but they’re not very insulating.
You may need to look for warmer bedding options if you’re currently using material like pellets. For outdoor animals, hay is a great insulator and can be bought for relatively cheap so you can add a nice thick layer to make sure their home stays dry. A bedding material like LFJ Millers Meadow Hay Extra Large Bale can provide warmth as well as some good snacking!
For smaller critters who like to pack their sleeping area with nice soft bedding, Excel Nap & Nest Small Animal Bedding is a great option for little homes. While being super soft and comfortable, it only comes in smaller quantities so if you want to make their entire home a little warmer, a good bedding material for that is Carefresh Natural, Small Pet Bedding. It’s fluffy, warm and highly absorbent which means it won’t get wet and cause their house to remain damp and cold until their next clean. You can pile it nice and tall so your furry friends can make deep beds as well.
Heat pads (for all small pets)
During the coldest of nights and days, even with a nice thick layer of bedding, you may notice that there’s still a chill in the air and want to make a nice warm bed for your beloved pets. Heat pads are a great, pet safe version of a water bottle that can warm up their bed ready to snuggle into. While electric pads and water bottles are a little risky for smaller pets who like to chew, a heating pad like the Snugglesafe Heat Pad is a safer alternative. It’s a hard plastic disk with a nice soft cover that you can heat up in the microwave and stays warm for up to ten hours which means your little critters can stay warm and cosy all night.
To keep heat in even more, you can place the pad in a small bed like the Roswood Carrot Plush Hooded Rabbit Bed which will trap heat in for longer and keep them nice and warm when the colder weather sets in.
Hutches & Cages(for all small pets)
If you’re worried about the cold getting to your smaller friends then you want to be sure that you’re doing everything you can to keep them away from draughts. By placing their cages in a nice, warm room of the house away from any draughts from open windows or doorways, they can stay warm all the time. You can always consider getting a cage for the winter that is more enclosed than a standard barred cage like the Savic Spelos Hamster Cage. The plastic sides will retain heat better than metal bars.
For smaller pets who live outdoors, you can make sure they have the best home for the Winter by giving them something that isn’t directly on the floor. If an outdoor rabbit hutch is placed directly on the ground then the cold temperature of the floor and any dampness that collects will soak into the wood and make for a colder home. You can either put the hutch up on blocks to keep it up off the ground or get a nice home with legs like the Petsource Wooden Double Hutch to make sure they stay warm. Rabbit hutch covers like the Cheeko 46" Hutch Cover will also help to keep out any draughts and keep your furry friends nice and warm all through Winter.
You can find everything you need and more for keeping your small pets warm this Winter online and in store so don’t hold off stocking up on some nice cosy bedding before they start to feel the cold.