If there’s one thing that pretty much everyone can agree on, it’s that winter can be downright bitter. But however harsh it can be for us humans, there are ways we can cope with freezing temperatures or biting winds: hats, jackets, blankets, hand warmers and, for some of us, Hot Toddies. On the other hand, our pets sometimes don’t have access to some of our winter comforts (especially not the alcohol), so this time of the year can be especially dangerous for our four-legged family members.
Of course your dog or cat will still need to go outdoors—your dog still needs daily walks in winter, and we’ve discussed options for exercise before—so we’re sharing some of our best Winter safety tips for pets:
Reduce the amount of time your pet spends outdoors.
This is especially important when temperatures drop below freezing. Read here for some indoor exercise routines.
Protect them from the cold.
Short-haired, short-legged and senior dogs—and also puppies—will stop shivering if you buy them a warm dog sweater or coat to wear and boots to protect their paws. You can also get sweaters and paw protectors for cats, although kittens should stay inside in the warm. Despite a healthy coat of fur, dogs and cats are susceptible to frostbite.
Don’t leave your pet in the car.
You may think this advice just applies to the summer months, when cars can quickly become like ovens, a deadly situation for any pets left inside. But it also applies to the winter months, when the opposite happens and cars turn into refrigerators, leaving pets at risk of hypothermia.
Keep your dog on a leash.
We know that, like us, you’ve seen news stories about dogs running out onto frozen lakes or ponds and then falling through the ice. This is why it’s a good idea to keep your dog on a leash if you’re going near any large bodies of frozen water so your pooch doesn’t end up on the evening news. And if possible, keep her on a leash at all times just to be safe.
Wash your pet’s paws thoroughly when you get home.
Many cities use deicers such as rock salt to melt ice in winter and you don’t want your pet licking these chemicals – which can be toxic – off their paws. Watch out too for any antifreeze spills and don’t let your pet drink from puddles.
Watch for signs of frostbite or hypothermia.
If you see any symptoms, get her inside into a warm environment immediately. Then call your vet for instructions on what to do next. You may need to give your pet first aid treatment at home to stabilize her before exposing her to the cold again on the drive to the clinic.
We hope these Winter safety tips for pets will help you keep your pets safe this winter. And don’t forget, pets can feel the cold indoors as well, so you may want to move their bed nearer to your home’s heating, such as a radiator or fire. Also consider adding another blanket or two to their pet bed for extra warmth.
The beginning of winter is also a good time to stock up on pet care supplies, either in the stores or online at Simple Solution, www.simplesolution.com, OUT! pet care, www.outpetcare.com, Vet’s Best, www.vetsbest.com and Bags on Board, www.bagsonboard.com.