Now offering wellness plans! Learn more here.

7 Winter Weather Safety Tips for Pets

Winter weather extremes can be unpleasant and inconvenient, and many of us count the days until the sun shines warmly again. Cold temperatures, snow, and ice can also be downright dangerous, not only for you and your human family, but also your pets. Contrary to popular belief, most pets’ fur does not adequately protect them from the elements, so they are as susceptible to cold-related illness or accidents as people. Island Animal Hospital knows your pet is a top priority, so we’re providing tips to help you recognize cold dangers and avoid winter weather disasters.

#1: Know your pet’s cold tolerance

If you spend a lot of time outdoors, you should become familiar with your individual dog’s cold tolerance. Small breeds, those with short or thin coats, older pets, and those with health conditions will likely become cold faster, putting them at greater risk for hypothermia or frostbite. Pay attention to your dog’s behavior outside—if they are shivering or holding up their paws after only a few minutes, they are likely cold sensitive, while a large, double-coated breed, like an Alaskan malamute, may not only tolerate cold longer, but actually prefer colder weather.

#2: Purchase cold-weather gear

Cold sensitive dogs benefit from wearing sweaters or coats, and booties, hats, and ear snoods that cover and protect every sensitive body part are also available. These items can keep your pet comfortable outside for longer, which can help you convince your dog to stay outdoors long enough to use the bathroom and get some exercise. Plus, they make an excellent fashion statement.

#3: Limit time outside

If you’re outside with your pet and you feel uncomfortable, your pet is probably cold, too. Watch them closely and use their body language clues to decide if you should move inside. You can easily spot shivering and limping, and you should go inside before more serious hypothermia signs, like slowed movements or breathing, set in. Never leave pets outside unattended in cold weather—your pet may enjoy romping in your fenced yard, but you still must check on them every few minutes, assess their condition, and invite them inside if they choose.

#4: Wipe down pets when they come inside

Chemicals used to melt ice and increase road traction can build up on your pet’s paws and body after they walk outside, and can be toxic if ingested, or cause local skin irritation. After your dog has been for a long walk or rolled in the snow, carefully wipe down their paws, including between the pads and toes, and their belly and legs to remove adhered ice or snow that may cause irritation or frostbite.

#5: Use pet-safe ice melters

Use pet-safe ice melters around your home to increase human and pet safety, while avoiding harmful chemicals. Ice can lead to falls, cuts, or other injuries, and arthritic or older pets are especially susceptible. You may also consider boots, traction socks, or rubber nail grips to give your dog a better grip on outdoor surfaces.

#6: Pay attention to paw care

If your pet has long hair between their paw pads—which is true of most breeds who enjoy spending time in the snow—keep this hair trimmed to reduce ice and chemical accumulation. Trimming hair can also help facilitate paw pad maintenance, which is important during cold, dry weather, because paw pads can dry out and crack or tear easily, and take a long time to heal. Prevent paw pad injuries by using a commercial conditioning paw butter or lotion, which are readily available at pet stores and online retailers.

#7: Provide shelter for outdoor pets

Ideally, outdoor pets should come inside or into a barn or garage during cold spells, but that may not always be possible. If you have pets who must remain outdoors, adequate shelter that is well-insulated and lined with soft, warm bedding is paramount for their safety. Avoid heating elements that could burn the pet or start a fire and use heated water bowls, which typically are safe and will prevent freezing, so your pet still has access to adequate water. Outdoor pets also burn more calories during the winter, so you should provide extra food at mealtimes.

Paying close attention to your pet’s behavior and providing them with a little extra TLC will allow you to enjoy the winter weather together. Island Animal Hospital is here to help if your pet has a cold-related accident or injury, or if you have any questions about cold safety. Contact us if you need help determining your pet’s cold tolerance, or for an overall winter health check.

By |2024-02-14T23:52:48+00:00February 5th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

About the Author:

Leave A Comment

Go to Top