Cold Weather Safety Tips for Pet Owners This Winter
With the cold temperatures and unpredictable snow storms here in Wisconsin, we want to remind you of the best ways to protect your pet during the cold season. Many problems can be avoided if the proper preventative measures put into place. You’re probably already aware of the risks posed by warm weather and leaving pets in hot cars, but did you know that cold weather also poses serious threats to your pets’ health?
Here are some tips to keep your pets safe during cold weather:
Has your pet had his/her preventive wellness exam? If you were unaware, cold weather may have a negative affect towards medical conditions such as arthritis. We suggest scheduling an examination you’re your veterinarian at least once a year to make sure they are ready and healthy before the harsh weather conditions worsen. You can also discuss vaccinations, nutritional supplementation, deworming and other necessary treatments. If your animal is pregnant and/or young and old in age, it is that much more important to schedule a veterinary appointment.
Check the Paws
Make sure to check your dog’s paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding. After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet and abdomen to remove ice, salt and chemicals—and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes. Use paw protectants (like petroleum jelly) on paw pads to protect against salt and other chemicals. You may be able to reduce the chance of iceball accumulation by clipping the hair between your dog’s toes. If your dog will tolerate them, booties provide even more coverage and can also prevent sand and salt from getting lodged between bare toes and causing irritation. Also, keep your home humidified and towel dry your pet as soon as he comes inside. During walks, your dog’s feet, legs and belly may pick up deicers, antifreeze, or other chemicals that could be toxic. When you get back inside, wipe down (or wash) your pet’s feet, legs and belly to remove these chemicals and reduce the risk that your dog will be poisoned after (s)he licks them off of his/her feet or fur. Consider using pet-safe deicers on your property to protect your pets and the others in your neighborhood.
If your dog has a short coat or seems bothered by the cold weather, consider a sweater or dog coat. Have several on hand, so you can use a dry sweater or coat each time your dog goes outside. Wet sweaters or coats can actually make your dog colder. Some pet owners also use booties to protect their dog’s feet; if you choose to use them, make sure they fit properly. As far as the appearance of your dog, we suggest not cutting your dog’s hair in winter. If your dog has longer hair, you can trim the hairs to eliminate any snow or ice that clings to it however, their long hair keeps them warm, so we suggest using your judgement! If your dog has short hair, Don’t cut your dog’s hair in winter. Longer coats provide warmth. If your dog is long-haired, simply trim him to minimize the clinging snow and ice. If your dog is short-haired, consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. Cold and dry weather can cause itchy, flaking skin.
Cats and dogs should be kept inside during cold weather. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside. Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods in below-freezing weather. If it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside.
Collar and Chip
Many pets become lost in winter because snow and ice can hide recognizable scents that might normally help your pet find his/her way back home. Make sure your pet has a well-fitting collar with up-to-date identification and contact information. A microchip is a more permanent means of identification, but it’s critical that you keep the registration up to date. Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. Dogs frequently lose their scent in snow and ice and easily become lost. They may panic in a snowstorm and run away. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season.
Proper Eating Routine
Keep your pet at a healthy weight throughout the winter. Some pet owners feel that a little extra weight gives their pet some extra protection from cold, but the health risks associated with that extra weight don’t make it worth doing. Watch your pet’s body condition and keep them in the healthy range. Outdoor pets will require more calories in the winter to generate enough body heat and energy to keep them warm – talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s nutritional needs during cold weather.
Odds are your pet will be spending more time inside during the winter, so it’s a good time to make sure your house is properly pet-proofed. Use space heaters with caution around pets, because they can burn or they can be knocked over, potentially starting a fire. Check your furnace before the cold weather sets in to make sure it’s working efficiently, and install carbon monoxide detectors to keep your entire family safe from harm. If you have a pet bird, make sure its cage is away from drafts.
Just like you, pets prefer comfortable sleeping places and may change their location based on their need for more or less warmth. Give them some safe options to allow them to vary their sleeping place to adjust to their needs. Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts.
In addition to these tips, we would like to remind pet owners that DC laws prohibit animals left outside longer than 15 minutes with temperatures below freezing. The law also defines adequate shelter for animals kept outside with temperatures below 40 degrees. So, make sure your pet is ready for the cold with these precautionary tips so you have a fun and safe winter with your animal!
First founded as a siding company in 1977 in Waunakee, near Madison, WI, our company has evolved into a full-service interior and exterior remodeling team. With years of industry experience in materials selection, design expertise, and professional custom craftsmanship, we’ve established ourselves as the premier remodeling company in South Central Wisconsin.