Many people worry about their pets during the hot summer months. Rightfully so; the hot summer temperatures can be deadly to pets. However, the winter months can be just as dangerous. The following winter weather safety tips will help you keep your pets safe and healthy this winter.
#1 Proper Shelter
If your pet lives outside make sure to provide them with proper shelter. And in sub-zero weather, bring them indoors. A good shelter should be dry, draft free, and sheltered from the wind. It should be large enough to allow them to sit up and lay down comfortably but small enough to conserve body heat. The floor should be raised off the ground. Provide additional insulation inside like shavings or straw.
Outside pets also need more food during the winter time and fresh water. It can also boost their metabolism, which in turn increases their body temperature. They’ll feel warmer and have the same amount of energy.
#2 Check the Hood!
Cats love to snuggle up in warm places when they’re allowed outside. This often means they find the wheel well or hood of a car. An unsuspecting car owner can kill a cat with the turn of their ignition key. Save a life by banging on the hood or honk the horn before starting the car. The sub-zero temperatures can cause small animals to become hypothermic quickly, so always make sure all pets have a warm and safe place to get in from the elements during the cold winter months.
#3 Collars and Microchips
Pets getting away from their owners is sometimes unavoidable, but the winter snow can disguise recognizable scents that would normally help them find their way home. Keep dogs leashed on walks, make sure they are wearing their collars with up to date contact info and are microchipped.
#4 Wipe Their Paws
During your walk, your dog’s paws pick up all kinds of toxic chemicals, such as, salt, antifreeze, and de-icers. Be sure to wipe their paws after your walk. This will prevent your dog from licking the chemicals and becoming sick. Also, check the pads for cracks or bleeding. Just like your hands, your dog’s paws dry out in the winter time. You can apply a paw balm to help soothe any cracks.
#5 Winter Wear for Your Dog
Some dogs can benefit from outerwear. Dogs with short fur, elderly, or very young dogs do not tolerate the cold as easily and can benefit from the extra protection from a winter coat. Many dogs’ pads are extremely sensitive, so you may consider booties, which can help keep snow and ice from getting packed in the hair on their feet and causing pain.
Veterinarians warn against putting a coat on your dog and letting it outside without supervision. Outerwear can become wet and tangled, posing a danger to your pet. If the temperatures are particularly cold, the winter coat won't offer as much protection as you may like.
#6 Be Seen
As the days grow shorter, the daily walk is often in the dark. Keep yourself and your dog safe by wearing reflective gear and have a headlight.
#7 Put Away Household Chemicals
Antifreeze is deadly. Cats and dogs get into the garage and they’re drawn to the sweet scent of antifreeze. Just a few drops will kill a beloved pet. Keep your pets out of the garage and keep the chemicals up off the floor and put away.
#8 Be Prepared
Winter weather can cause power outages. Have an emergency plan that includes your pets. Have enough food, water, and medication to last at least a week. Better to be prepared than to wish you had been.
Pets need specific care and attention all year long. Each season brings new challenges, but a few steps of diligence and mindful monitoring can help ensure your pets stay happy and healthy this winter season.