The winter season, from mid-December to mid-March, is drier than most seasons in Florida, with warm nights and cool evenings. Bundling up is rarely a necessity and there’s always plenty to do. Winter is a great time to check out the manatees, get in a little camping on the beach, or go to a farmer’s market, and there are a plethora of holidays to look forward to.
Even during this agreeable season, however, as pet parents, we need to stay aware of possible hazards to furry family members. Here are a few tips on keeping your pet healthy and happy during Florida’s winter months.
Winters in Florida are the mildest in the continental United States, with average highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s. The mild outdoor temperatures can easily lull people into complacency or cause them to be unprepared when the weather veers out of the norm.
For the most part, heat is less of a worry during the winter months than other seasons. Even when the outside temperature is a relatively mild 70 degrees, however, the inside of a car can reach over 100 degrees in just thirty minutes. In an hour it can climb to a life-threatening 120 degrees. The stifling temperatures in a hot car can be even more dangerous for heavily furred or brachycephalic dogs. Never leave your dog (or cat) unattended in a car in Florida, no matter what the season.
While the temperatures rarely fall below 50 in Brevard County, it does happen on occasion. Our four-legged family members may have a fur coat, but it isn’t always enough to keep them warm when the mercury dips. If it is chilly to you, it may be a bit nippy for your pet as well.
On colder winter days try and take your walks during the warmest part of the day, and watch for signs that your pet is feeling the cold. If your dog is reluctant to go out or starts shivering, take the hint and wait until it is warmer or bundle your dog up. Providing your dog with a nice soft place to sleep that is insulated from the cold floor will go a long way towards preventing the aches and pains that often go along with colder weather.
Wild animals are always a concern in Florida and winter is no exception. Not only are the usual residents There are a number of species of animals to be aware of during the colder months here in Brevard County. It is important to keep an eye on your pet at all times when they are outside and to keep them away from any wandering wildlife.
Bears in Florida are preparing for torpor in the early winter, for example, and they may range closer to human habitation than normal in their search for food. There is an increase in the population of bats in the winter as some species migrate to the south to avoid the colder northern temperatures. While bats are generally harmless animals, they are occasionally capable of spreading rabies without showing any of the conventional symptoms. Coyotes may be more active and aggressive during their breeding season as well, which runs from January through March.
Along with irritable and possibly diseased wildlife, when the temperature dips under 40 degrees, Florida’s residents have to deal with falling fauna as well. Iguanas, which are cold-blooded, may become paralyzed from the cold and fall from the trees. As these reptiles can reach around 20 pounds as adults, having one fall on you or your canine companion could be dangerous. Not only that, but the iguanas are not usually dead after falling out of the tree, and once they thaw back out they are likely to lash out at anything that is nearby. Avoid walking under trees when the temperature dips below 40 degrees and if you see an iguana lying on the ground in the cold, leave it alone.
Winter is a wonderful season here on Space Coast. The storms have settled, the heat has dissipated, and oranges are in season. It’s delightful to get to share your favorite holidays with your furbabies and it’s a great time to get in some outdoor exercise with your pet as well. Being diligent about your pet’s safety and aware of their surroundings whether inside or outside your home will help to ensure that your winter remains wonderful.
Melanie is the owner and founder of Brevard’s premier trusted in-home pet care company. With a Sociology & Criminal Justice degree from the University of Tennessee, in 2016 she took her corporate security background and combined it with her lifelong passion for animals – that’s how Space Coast Pet Services was born! She is certified in Pet First Aid & CPR, bonded, insured, and proudly completed a full background check successfully. She is committed to ongoing training and education for herself and her team. To learn more, click here.
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