They may have fur, but winter poses a real risk to pets as temperatures plummet and streets get covered in snow. Here’s some advice on keeping your pets safe during the chilly months:
Dogs and cats have fur coats, but the exposed areas on their noses, ears, and paws are at risk of frostbite and hypothermia. For short-haired dogs and pets, which have less protection from the elements, it’s a good idea to bundle them up in a sweater or other garment. Dog boots, cute coats, flashy collars, and leashes — these are all meant to be used with healthy, adult pets in winter.
When you do venture outside, walks should be limited to 10 minutes or less. When you get back inside, wipe down (or wash) your pet’s feet, legs and belly to remove salt and other chemicals. This reduces the risk that your dog will be poisoned after they lick his/her feet or fur. Consider using pet-safe deicers on your property to protect your pets and the others in your neighborhood.
Keep poisons locked away
Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but according to the Humane Society its sweet taste can attract animals who try and lick it up. So keep that antifreeze and rock salt safely stashed away.
Avoid frozen ponds
When walking your dog, stay away from frozen ponds, lakes and other water. You don’t know if the ice will support your dog’s weight, and if your dog breaks through the ice it could be deadly.
Bathe your pets as little as possible during the winter
Washing too often can remove essential oils and increase the chance of developing dry, flaky skin. If your pooch must be bathed, ask your vet to recommend a moisturizing shampoo and/or rinse.
Protect your pets from heaters
Dogs and cats will often seek heat during cold winter weather by snuggling too close to heating sources. Avoid space heaters and install baseboard radiator covers to avoid your pet getting burned. Fireplaces also pose a major threat so please make sure you have a pet proof system to keep your heat-seeking pal out of harm’s way!
Beware of cats sheltering under cars
In cold weather, cats will seek shelter anywhere they can. Even if you haven’t run your car in days, a cat may still seek the nominal protection found in your car’s engine compartment.
Know the Signs of Hypothermia and Frostbite
When cats and dogs are exposed to the cold for too long, their body temperature — which is usually between 101°F and 102.5°F — can drop fatally. Here’s what you need to know as you keep a close eye on your pets in winter.
Hypothermia Symptoms in Dogs and Cats
- violent shivering, followed by listlessness
- weak pulse
- muscle stiffness
- problems breathing
- lack of appetite
- rectal temperature below 98°F
- cardiac arrest