Winter Pet Safety Tips
Hey, there’s snow outside! Snow and winter weather brings its own set of challenges and fun for both us and our pets. Here are some tips to keep our furry friends safe in cold weather:
1. Stay inside. Just because cats and dogs have fur coats does not mean that they will enjoy being outdoors in freezing, wet or snowy weather. Animals can and do get frostbite and hypothermia. If it is too cold for you to stay outdoors, even with your jacket on, it is too cold for your furry friends too.
2. Check the hood. In cold weather, cats like the warmth of car engines and can be badly injured when you start your car. We see these injuries every year. Please remember to thump the hood or honk your horn before starting your car in cold weather.
3. Check the Paws. In snowy and cold wet weather, roads and walkways are frequently treated with ice melting products that can be toxic or caustic to sensitive skin. And that extra fur on their feet can make it easy to develop ice balls between their toes. Cold weather damage can also cause cracked paw pads and bleeding. Don’t forget to check their bellies for the same problems too.
4. Dress them up. Sweaters and coats, along with little booties are available for our furry friends with shorter coats too. Be sure to have plenty on hand so you can switch them out for a dry one though.
5. Plenty of food and water. When our pets are more active in cold weather, they may need a bit more food. And don’t forget that outdoor water sources may freeze up!
6. Beware of Antifreeze. Just a few drops of ethylene glycol antifreeze can be deadly. Consider using products that contain propylene glycol instead; and keep your pet away from curbs where cars park, as there may be some spilled antifreeze there for them to lick or walk through (& later lick from their paws).
7. Remember the Leash, Collar, and Chip. Dogs and cats can be disoriented and lose their scent. More dogs are lost in winter than in any other season; so be sure your pet has an ID collar &/or Microchip so he/she can find its way back home if lost!
8. Good Shelter. While we do not recommend keeping any dogs and cats outside for long periods of time; if it is necessary for your pet to be outside in cold weather be sure to provide warm and solid shelter. They will need protection not just from the cold; but also from the wind and wet, so any shelter should have a floor with thick bedding and solid/insulated walls and roof. Bedding should be changed out regularly to keep it warm and dry.
9. Be prepared. Cold weather can make it difficult to get out to the stores, so be sure to stock up with plenty of food and water (and any medications) for both your 2-legged and 4-legged family members. Be prepared for power outages. Install carbon monoxide monitors to protect your entire family.
And finally, Listen to your pet. If your furry friend is whining, shivering, anxious, or not moving around very much, get them back inside as it is likely they are no longer enjoying the cold outdoors. Frostbite is difficult to detect early, as the pet may not be aware of the injury either; so check those paws frequently and consult your veterinarian if you have any concerns. Cold weather may worsen some chronic medical issues, like arthritis and skin issues; so it is helpful to consult your veterinarian ahead of time to prevent more suffering. Pets with other chronic health concerns, like diabetes, Cushing’s or Thyroid disease, or kidney disease may also have a tougher time in cold weather, as their disease can make them more susceptible to temperature extremes. Very young and very old pets also do not tolerate cold as well.
Please feel free to call us if we can help you and your pet to enjoy (or tolerate, lol) winter weather!