Winter Safety Tips for Pets

Winter Safety Tips for Pets

by Kathy Green

The cold weather is fast approaching and to ensure that your dogs and cats have a safe and healthy winter there are several things that need to be considered. 

Regardless of how comfortable your pet seems outdoors, domestic animals are not adapted to live outside, and just aren’t equipped to be out in frigid temperatures for prolonged periods.

So how can you make sure your four-legged friends are warm and well-cared for when the temperature dips? 

Keeping Warm: Care of their Fur

Our pets' thick coats are lovely, but as beautiful as fur is, it's not a perfect insulator, especially when it's very cold. Furthermore, if an animal's coat gets wet it loses a lot of its  ability to insulate.

Here are a few tips to help keep your pets warm.

  • Buy your dog a coat (don't bother for your cat as they won't put up with them)
  • Make sure the hair between your pet's toes is trimmed so snow/ice balls can't form
  • Salt-spread sidewalks can also injure your pet's foot pads by burning them. To protect the pads on your animal's feet, dog boots are a great solution--make sure they are snug but not tight.
  • Supplement your pet’s diet with essential fatty acids, such as canola oil and safflower oil, that helps coats thicken during cold months.
  • Increasing protein in the diet also keeps fur full and healthy.

More Tips for Pet Safety

  • Check food and water often to make sure they are not frozen. Use plastic bowls to prevent pet tongues from accidentally getting stuck.
  • Bang on your car's hood before turning on the ignition. If you park your car and your engine is still warm, on a cold night cats will crawl up in it.
  • Always consider keeping your pet indoors. If for whatever reason you absolutely cannot bring your dog inside when the temperatures are freezing, make sure the dog has an adequate doghouse or shelter.
  • In extremely low temperatures, even short periods of exposure can result in hypothermia. The animal will demonstrate lack of energy and weakness because of slowed heart and breathing rates.
  • If you expect your pet has hypothermia wrap your animal in a warm coat or blanket in a warm room, put 1-2 teaspoons of honey/sugar-water on his gums and call your veterinarian immediately.
  • Puppies and kittens as well as older dogs, older cats and sick animals shouldn't be outside in freezing temperatures no matter how well-dressed. 
  • When walking pets in winter ( longer periods of darkness) use a reflective collar on your dog.
  • Winter holidays bring fun but also bring items potentially toxic or dangerous to your pet. Keep pets away from chocolate, plants, holly berries and leaves, and tinsel.

If you are feeling the effects of the cold winter weather then chances are so is your pet. Be familiar with cold weather health hazards and keep your pet safe while allowing both of you to enjoy some outdoor winter fun.