12 Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe in Cold Weather
Icy, arctic, winter weather is bearing down on many parts of the country. These cold temperatures not only hurt humans, they can also harm animals. Here are 12 tips to help keep pets safe in frigid temperatures.
1. Get A Wellness Examination
The American Veterinary Association recommends that pets receive an annual checkup before exposing them to cold weather. Chronic medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, hormonal conditions, and kidney issues can make a pet less-tolerant of cold temperatures.
2. Reduce Walk Times
Shorten your dog's walk time during inclement weather. Pets are individuals. They do not experience cold temperatures the same due to physical differences.
Dogs with thick, long, and double-layered coats may tolerate icy weather conditions better than others, but they are still at risk. Short-haired animals have less protective coats. Small canines have bellies and legs that are closer to snow cover. These pets feel extreme conditions faster. Senior dogs may have issues walking in icy conditions.
3. Recognize Signs of Hypothermia
Watch for any problems when pets are outside. If your dog is shaking, whining, anxious, shivering, or weak take them inside immediately. These are signs of hypothermia. To determine your pet's cold-tolerance levels, speak with a qualified veterinarian.
4. Bundle Up Your Pet for Warmth
Keep your pets warm during the winter by dressing them in sweaters or coats. Shielding them from the cold is important, especially if they have low-level, winter-weather tolerance.
Carry several coats and sweaters in a handbag. Change clothing after rough play if their clothing is wet. Damp clothes can possibly cause hypothermia.
Ensure your dog's feet are dry. Use booties to protect their paws from ice, snow, and salt.
"Your #pets need to bundle up in cold weather just like you do. Be sure to have plenty of coats and sweaters on hand for them." TWEET THIS
5. Ensure Safe Outdoor Sleeping Options
Dogs are not biologically built to withstand cold weather. They need proper shelter to protect them.
We recommend that pets be kept indoors during cold weather. If not, provide pets with safe sleeping options. Special considerations should be made for outdoor pets.
When building a shelter, follow these tips:
- Bedding should be a thick pad with a washable cover containing cedar chips or newspaper.
- Make sure their house is two to three inches higher than the tallest part of the dog when it sits down.
- The interior should have 36 square inches of floor space for every inch of the dog's height. If a canine is 10 inches tall, it needs 360 square inches (10 x 36 = 360 square inches). The shelter's entrance should be protected from the wind.
- Make sure the opening is off-center. This will allow pets to comfortably curl in corners to avoid precipitation and drafts.
- Owners should raise dogs shelters above the ground. This prevents moisture runoff and dampness from getting inside.
Pet owners should always keep newborn puppies and senior dogs inside. They are less able to withstand the cold.
6. Winter Weather Paw Care
After walks in icy weather, always examine pet paws. Check if pets have cracked, injured, or bleeding pads that can make it difficult for them to walk.
During the winter, keep the furs between dog's paws clipped short to prevent ice and snow accumulation between the crevices.
TIP: I advise carrying unscented baby or pet wipes and a bottle of water in case paws get into sidewalk salt. This can cause chemical burns and severe pain, so having the tools to wash it off is very important!
7. Collar or Chip Pets
During cold weather, more dogs are lost. They cannot find their way back home because there are fewer, familiar smells to guide them home. Make sure your dog is wearing an identification collar or a microchip and be sure identification items have a current address and updated registration.
8. Keep Pets at Home
In icy weather, heated cars cool down rapidly. Pets left inside vehicles can freeze, especially if they are in fragile health. Do not leave your pet in unattended vehicles.
9. Pet-Proof Your House
Animals spend more time indoors during the winter. Keep your pets and families safe by following these tips:
- Make sure that space heaters are securely fastened to prevent pets from knocking them over.
- Have a fence around heaters to prevent pets from getting burned.
- Install a doggy door, so dogs can go outside quickly to relieve themselves.
10. Prevent Poisoning
Antifreeze can kill pets. Clean up spills as soon as they happen.
If your pets have stepped in any de-icers, antifreeze, or other toxic chemicals used on roads, wipe down their feet with a gentle, pet-safe cleanser. Sometimes, dogs and cats lick toxic chemicals off of their paws to clean them. This can poison them. If you're using de-icers on your drive-way, consider using pet safe ones to protect animals.
11. Keep Emergency Supplies on Hand
Severe, winter weather can cause power outages without notice. Make sure that you have an emergency kit prepared for pets. Have it stocked with a week's supply of food, water, and medicine.
12. Feed Your Pet a Healthy Diet
Some owners give their dogs extra food to build up their fat. They believe the weight will help their pets tolerate the cold better. Additional body fat can have long-term health consequences. Always give dogs a healthy, nutritious diet.
This winter weather guide is essential to keep your pets safe in frosty temperatures. For more information and guidance on how to help your pets safely enjoy the winter weather, contact us.
About Dr. Natalie Waggener
Dr. Natalie Waggener has 17 years of experience in emergency work and general practice in Rhode Island, Florida and Massachusetts. She has a special interest in dentistry, wellness care and rehabilitation therapy. She is currently licensed in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island.