Our dogs and cats definitely need extra care and protection during the cold winter months. Snow, ice, sleet, chilly rains, and even the cold, dry air may cause more than just discomfort to your furry friends—they pose actual dangers. Exposure to the elements can be risky for your pet’s health and safety. The first thing to remember is that it’s best to keep pet animals cozy and warm indoors. If you’re wondering how else you can keep your pet safe, read the following winter safety tips for pets.
Pet Safety Tips for Winter
1. Keep your pets inside.
This winter safety tip for pets couldn’t be stressed enough. Pets have no business staying outside if the weather is extremely cold, except in very rare cases. Keep your home extra warm with dehumidifiers. Provide extra thick bedding for your pets in a warm, dry place.
2. Limit outdoor time.
You’d still have to take your pet for walks outdoors, but make sure it’s only for shorter periods. Dogs can get hypothermia and frostbite, too. Elderly dogs and young puppies, as well as breeds with thin, short coats, should be given less exposure to the cold.
Keep your dog close when you go outside. If you have to walk in the dark due to daylight saving time, it would be a good idea to wear reflective clothing so you’re easier to find.
3. Check under the hood.
Cats can sleep almost anywhere, as long as it’s warm and cozy. Unfortunately, this puts their lives in danger as they also have the tendency to sleep on your tires where you can’t see them. Make it a habit to bang on the hood or honk your horn before you start your car to wake up any sleeping cat.
4. Avoid frozen lakes or ponds.
If you have to take your pet outdoors, prevent him from slipping or falling in by avoiding walking on ice altogether. Sliding over ice may seem fun but it’s also dangerous.
5. Protect their paws.
Every time you return home following a walk outside in the snow, don’t forget to wipe off your dog’s paws. He could easily have come in contact with toxic substances used to make sidewalks safer for people. You may apply warm water and make sure to reach between the toes and the pads.
6. Provide extra body protection.
Dress your pets up in comfy sweaters and booties, especially on days when it becomes extremely cold. Small, short-haired dogs can get cold more easily, but this doesn’t mean that your big, lovable dog wouldn’t appreciate his very own doggie sweater, too! Booties are a great idea for walking outside. Walking in the cold can cause dryness, abrasion, and injuries to unprotected paws.
7. Beware of antifreeze.
Keep antifreeze in a safe place out of reach and immediately clean up any spills. Antifreeze is extremely dangerous to pets when ingested. Signs that your dog might have ingested antifreeze include vomiting, drooling, panting, lethargy, excessive thirst, and seizures. If you see any of these signs, take your pet to the vet immediately.
8. Make necessary feeding adjustments.
Some added calories can help dogs feel extra warm during cold weather. But be careful not to overfeed your pets as this also comes with health risks. Keep monitoring your pet’s weight to ensure that he’s not eating more than he should.
9. Update collar tags.
Make sure your pets’ ID collar tags are updated, not just during winter but throughout the year. Should your dog get lost, snow would make it hard for him to track scents that would lead him home. If your dog isn’t microchipped, take him to the vet to get one. Chances of finding a lost dog is higher if he has been microchipped. But of course, as the most important among all winter pet safety tips: keep your dog securely leashed or barricaded inside the home to prevent him from going out.
10. Be prepared for emergencies.
Have an emergency plan for your family, as well as for your pets, should anything unexpected happens. Prepare an emergency kit with food, water, medicine, and other essentials to last for up to five days.
Here Is A Winter Safety for Pets Infographic
Keep Your Pets Warm Outside
While the indoors is the place to be for any pet when it’s winter, you may have some important reasons to keep them, especially a dog, outdoors. In some cases, pets live outdoors if there are sick or elderly people or small children in the house. Or, it could be that your dog is a herder or simply prefers staying outside. In this case, it’s important to know the basics of how to keep the dog’s warm outside in winter.
1. Know your dog’s breed.
Some dog breeds, particularly big ones with long thick fur or those that originated from the colder parts of the world, have better tolerance for cold temperatures. You’ll be able to know how much cold your dog can withstand based on his breed.
2. Elevate your pet’s bed.
Should you have no choice but to leave dogs outside in winter, winter-proof his shelter at the very least. Elevated dog beds keep them away from the floor, where it could get extremely cold. You can buy these from pet supply stores or you can make one yourself.
3. Use winter blankets.
Winter blankets will provide some extra warmth for your dog during the cold months. There are also heated dog blankets you can purchase, although you have to be extra careful when using these as they can cause burns.
4. Make him wear a sweater and booties.
If you have a dog staying outside in winter, keep him snug and comfy with dog sweaters and booties. Some dogs may not like sweaters or booties on the first try. Get him used to wearing them in the weeks before winter starts.
5. Ensure appropriate grooming.
It’s not recommended that you shave your pets’ hair off during the cold as they need their coat to keep warm. However, you need to pay special attention to hair in the toes, where ice may form and hurt your pet. Cut off excess hair in the paws to prevent injuries.
6. Winter-proof his house.
The dog house should be dry and protected from draft at all times. The doorway should be facing away from the wind and covered with thick, insulating material like burlap. Layer the floors with straw or lots of blankets for added warmth and comfort.
7. Let your pet inside.
When temperatures drop below-zero, you should absolutely take your pets inside. You may keep him in a crate or kennel, which you can cover with a thick blanket for added insulation.
Cold weather signals the approaching winter holidays and it certainly is exciting for most people. But don’t forget that dog safety becomes an extra important concern during winter, when pets could be exposed to extreme cold and harsh weather elements. Keep them safe with the help of these tips. And remember, if you’re feeling the cold, your pet does, too! The most important thing is to keep them indoors with you, where it’s safe, warm, and dry.