As winter bears down on our area, it is important to remember that our pets need extra protection from the cold temperatures, snow and wind. Most dogs – especially short hair breeds, small dogs, puppies and senior dogs – are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia. Take these precautions to keep your pet safe through the winter.
- Bring pets inside – of course the safest place for your pets is with you, warm and happy inside.
- Be brief – when very cold, icy, or snowing outside, keep walks, potty breaks or outside play brief.
- Put a sweater on – most dogs can benefit from the extra protection, all can benefit from extra adorableness.
- Use paw protection – socks or booties protect paws not only from ice, but from salt. If your dog won’t tolerate footwear, give the paws (and the belly) a wipe after coming in from outside to get off any trace of salt or antifreeze before your pet licks their paws clean.
- Be proactive – look for signs of hypothermia or frostbite and take action as outlined below.
- Provide fresh water – be sure pets have plenty of fresh (not frozen) drinking water. Use plastic bowls, metal freezes water faster and pets’ tongues can stick.
- Provide warm, dry shelter – if pets must be outside, be sure that they have a dry, draft-free shelter, protected from the wind.
- Check for cats – knock on the hood of your car before getting in – cats may seek warmth and shelter there and can be injured or killed by the fan belt as the car is started.
- Leave pets at home – like with hot weather, pets should never be left alone in the care in cold weather. Hypothermia can set in quickly.
- Use the leash – keep your dog on a leash, especially in a snowstorm – dogs can lose the scent and become lost.
- Watch out for Antifreeze – its sweet smell (ethyleneglycol) is appealing to dogs but highly lethal; look for products containing
- propylene glycol instead.
- Be generous with dinner – dogs that spend most of their time outdoors may need more calories to maintain their energy level in cold weather.
Even the most thoughtful pet owner can be fooled by their pets’ enthusiasm for the great outdoors. Follow these tips, keep those wet noses and fuzzy feet warm and your pets should do great.