Exposure to winter’s dry, cold air and chilly rain can cause chapped paws and itchy, flaking skin. But these aren’t the only discomforts domesticated animals can suffer. Here’s how to prevent cold weather dangers from affecting your pet’s health.
Repeatedly coming out of the cold into the dry heat of your home can cause itchy, flaking skin. Keep your home humidified. If your pet is wet, towel-dry them as soon as they come inside, paying special attention to their feet and between the toes.
Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. If your dog is long-haired, simply keep them trimmed. If your dog is short‑haired, consider getting a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly.
Check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes. Massaging paw protectants into paw pads before going outside can help protect them.
Bath your pets as little as possible during cold spells. Washing too often can remove essential oils and increase the chance of developing dry, flaky skin. If your pooch must be bathed, ask your vet to recommend a moisturizing shampoo and/or rinse.
Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm in the wintertime. Feeding your pet a little bit more during the cold weather months can provide much-needed calories, and making sure she has plenty of water to drink will help keep her well-hydrated and her skin less dry.
Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect. Don’t leave pets outdoors when the temperature drops, keep your pets inside with you and your family. Dogs are happiest when taken out frequently for walks and exercise but keep them inside the rest of the time.
Cars are one of many hazards to small animals. Warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife, who may crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car’s hood to scare them away before starting your engine.
Be sure your horses have access to a barn or a three-sided run-in so they can escape the wind and cold. While not all horses will need to be blanketed, blankets will help horses keep warm and dry, especially if there is any rain. If you’ve body-clipped your horses, keep them blanketed throughout the winter.
Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside. If left outdoors, pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured or killed. In addition, don’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather. Cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death. ■
Do you wear a wetsuit in winter? Then check this out.
Ocean lovers of the Gold Coast don’t need to think about wetsuits too much. But if you want to get that wave this winter without feeling the cold, then the wetsuit of the future may be just what you are looking for.
We here on the Goldie are lucky, our waters are warm pretty much all year round. But there are other places where the oceans aren’t as welcoming.
Damn It’s Cold
Diving in icy water is extremely dangerous to humans. Within seconds, arteries tighten, blood pressure and heart rate race, and lungs gasp for air. After only minutes, hyperventilation strikes and arms and legs go numb. This is the onset of hypothermia.
Over in the USA, the Navy is trying to develop ways that let divers to stay under freezing waters for longer. They want a wetsuit to work like animal blubber. And they may have cracked it.
What the scientists have come up with is a wetsuit infused with an artificial blubber layer. This layer can triple the endurance time of divers in frozen waters. If this wetsuit can help divers last longer in icy oceans, then think about what it could do for you in the mild Pacific Ocean in our winter.
Boffins to the Rescue
The two professors working on the wetsuit are Dr Michael Strano and Dr Jacopo Buongiorno. Their focus is on a material called neoprene. Neoprene is the most common material used to make wetsuits. It is a synthetic rubber resembling a thick foam with numerous air pockets. These pockets slow the transfer of heat from the body into the surrounding cold water.
Strano and Buongiorno found that by substituting air with gasses, they created a more efficient, artificial blubber layer within the wetsuit. The gases they used in the wetsuit are non-toxic, don’t have negative chemical reactions, and don’t burn or explode. Using this suit, the diver’s tolerance went from one hour in freezing waters, to multiple hours.
Strano and Buongiorno placed a neoprene wetsuit in a sealed, specially-designed tank the size of a beer keg. They then pumped the container with the gasses for several hours. Laboratory tests showed the newly-pressurised wetsuit kept its insulating properties for over 20 hours after treatment. This is far longer than divers usually spend in frigid waters. The treatment also could be done in advance of a dive, with the wetsuit placed in a bag to be opened just before use. In such cases, the 20-hour countdown didn’t start until the suit was removed from the bag.
New Wetsuit? Nah.
“The great thing about this research is that you don’t have to recreate neoprene from scratch,” said Strano. “You can take an existing wetsuit from a closet, pump the gas into it and transform it into a super fabric.” While their laboratory tests and simulations have been successful, Strano and Buongiorno hope to test the wetsuit further during in-water demonstrations involving Navy and civilian divers. So watch this space, July-swimming enthusiasts.