Winter is here, and it’s time to gear up for cold temperatures. In many parts of the country, humans are fluffing up their puffer jackets and grabbing cold-weather gear in anticipation of a cold winter. But, don’t forget your pet during your preparations, too. Pet safety during cold weather is an important concern.
Much like hot weather, cold weather can pose dangerous risks to your pet. Exposure to winter’s dry air, sleet, snow, and other elements can cause your dog or cat a lot of discomfort.
Winter walks can become dangerous if extra steps aren’t taken to keep them safe. Chemicals from ice-melting agents, slippery surfaces, and frigid temperatures can turn a fun winter outing into an emergency trip to the vet.
Cold Weather Pet Safety Tips
Before the winter weather really sets in, familiarize yourself with these tips for a healthy and safe season.
Know the limits
A good rule of thumb is that if it’s too cold for you outside, it’s also too cold for your dog or cat.
Your pet’s tolerance level to cold weather can vary based on the type of coat, amount of body fat, activity level, and overall health. Typically, long-haired breeds are slightly more tolerant than short-haired breeds, but not by much – especially if they are an inside pet.
When you are outdoors, it’s important to keep an eye out for signs of discomfort or hypothermia. Extreme weather conditions might affect your dog or cat differently, depending on their age and existing health conditions.
Signs of hypothermia might include whining, shivering, anxious behaviors, weakness, slow movement, or burrowing for warmth. The moment these signs are clear, get your pet inside immediately. Seek a veterinarian’s advice on what to do next.
Purchasing winter gear, like booties, sweaters, and jackets, might be beneficial for your dog depending on their tolerance and regular activity level.
While exercise and bathroom breaks are absolutely necessary, we recommend shortening the duration of time outside, especially during inclement weather. If snowfall, sleet, or ice is in the forecast, take your dog out to do their business before the bad weather sets in. Keep walks brief and only when necessary.
Alternatively, a good game of tug-o-war indoors will help burn off extra energy and calories.
If you have outside pets, like working cats or dogs, make sure they have a warm spot to go to.
This may require relocating their beds, food, and water each season. Be sure to show your pet their new location and provide extra towels and blankets, so they may burrow in and keep warm.
Shelters should be well-built to keep out cold drafts and snow.
Extra Steps for Winter Grooming
After outside walks and adventures, wipe your dog’s paws and stomach to remove any debris. Sidewalk salt, chemicals, and ice or snow can irritate paws and cause them to crack and bleed. Be sure to get in between the paw pads so no chemicals or debris are trapped.
Winter gear is essential for your dog if they do spend lots of time outside. Consider a thermal jacket or a sweater if it is particularly cold. Booties are a great way to protect their paws against burns from the ice and any melting agents. Plus, it will reduce cracked paw pads from the cold, dry air.
Also, never shave your dog during the winter months. A thicker coat is necessary to protect themselves from the cold.
You already know the dangers of leaving a dog or cat inside a car during the warmer months, but cold weather is no different. A cold vehicle can act as a refrigerator and hold in cold air, dropping temperatures fast. It only takes minutes to create a fatal situation.
If you find yourself running errands, it’s best to leave your dog at home where he will be safe and warm.
On the other hand, cats are king when it comes to sneaky napping locations. During the colder months, outdoor cats may seek refuge under the hood of cars or inside the tire cage. This can be dangerous and cause death or injury.
Even if you are in an enclosed garage, honk the horn or make a fair amount of noise to give any catnappers the chance to relocate.
Keep these tips in mind this season so you and your furry friends can remain happy and healthy all winter long! For questions, or to make an appointment, contact us today.