Our pets need extra care and protection when the thermometer dips. As winter approaches, it’s important to make adjustments to your furry friend’s routine and make sure they have everything they need to make it safely through the colder months. Here are tips for how to keep your pets safe and cozy during cold weather.
Keep Your Pets Inside
If it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your furry friend. It’s a good idea to keep pets inside when it’s cold out, especially when temperatures drop below 30°F. If pets are left outdoors, they can become injured, disoriented, lost, or freeze.
If your pet cannot come indoors for any reason, they must be protected by a dry, draft-free enclosure that is small enough to hold in body heat and large enough to allow for free movement. When you can’t go out for a walk with your dog, consider indoor activities you can do together to make sure they are still getting enough exercise.
Protect Their Paws
Your pet will need extra attention when it’s severely cold outside. Paws should be protected from snow, ice, and even surfaces like concrete and asphalt since they don’t have fur to keep warm. If your pet will spend some time outdoors for their potty routine or daily exercise, use a pet paw protector or booties to create a barrier between the sensitive paw pads and cold surfaces. You can also massage petroleum jelly into paw pads to retain moisture and prevent irritation.
Remove Common Poisons
Antifreeze is a lethal poison for animals, but it has a sweet smell that may attract your pet. Be sure to thoroughly wipe up spills and keep antifreeze out of reach. You may want to consider using antifreeze and coolants made with propylene glycol since they are less toxic to pets.
The chemicals used in common salt and ice melt also increase the risk of salt poisoning. Use pet-safe ice melts whenever possible. If you go outside, take extra care to wipe ice and snow off your pet’s paws to remove any potential chemicals.
Consider Weather-Appropriate Grooming
If your pet has particularly long, thick, or coarse hair, grooming is likely part of your normal routine. However, during the colder months of the year, you might keep your pet’s furry coat longer for warmth. If your pet is long-haired, simply trim them to help prevent salt crystals, de-icing chemicals, and ice balls from getting stuck.
Comb your pet’s hair regularly and work your way gently through tangles and mats. Keep bathing to a minimum to prevent dry, flaky skin. If your pet must be bathed, use a moisturizing shampoo and/or rinse.
Make Some Noise
Cats in particular may find your car an appealing heat source. They may hide on top of the wheels, under the hood, or in other confined vehicle spaces. Before starting the engine, check underneath your car, honk the horn, or bang on the hood to alert any stowaway strays.
Watch for Hypothermia and Frostbite
Both cats and dogs can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite when exposed to severely cold weather. Limit time outdoors and learn the signs of hypothermia. These may include difficulty breathing, weakness, shivers, muscle stiffness, irritability, swelling, blisters, cold skin, or coma. If your pet is showing signs of hypothermia or frostbite, move them to a warm, dry area and consult your veterinarian immediately.
Avoid Walking on Frozen Water
Ice presents an incredibly dangerous predicament for curious pets. Keep your pets leashed when out on walks and stay away from frozen lakes, ponds, rivers, and other bodies of water. Pets can easily fall through thin ice.
Stock Up on Supplies
With cold weather often comes blizzards and power outages. Prepare a pet first aid kid with items such as a towel, scissors, latex gloves, self-adhesive bandage webbing, cotton balls, tweezers, antibacterial ointment, and gauze pads. Keep on hand a five-day supply of water, food, and medications your pet may need.
Consider Safety First
Cold weather offers ample opportunities to play in the snow and curl up close with your favorite furry companion. Planning ahead of time and remaining diligent can help prevent cold weather dangers from affecting the health and well-being of your pet.