Keeping your pet safe during cold winter months
Just like us, your pet feels the cold, too. Don’t think because they’re covered in fur, they don’t feel it. In many ways, they’re more affected than we are. Pets are vulnerable to frostbite and hypothermia just like humans. But unlike us, they can’t just go inside when the weather gets bad and they can’t put on warm clothes or shoes when they get wet. So, they depend on us to keep them safe and protected.
Here are just a few tips to keep your best friend safe and warm this winter:
- Keep your walks short and steer clear of icy or salt covered areas. De-icing agents could be toxic and lead to poisoning if ingested, so make sure your dog never licks the melting agent. Immediately wipe your dog’s belly, paw’s and hair after being outside to remove any salt, ice and chemicals. Check for frozen snow, ice balls and salt that accumulates between their toes. If your dog starts to limp or favor one paw during a walk, it could be because there’s salt or ice stuck to their paw, making it hard to walk. This is less likely to happen if you keep the hair on their paws and between their toes trimmed. Check often for cracked, red or bleeding pads. Consider a balm or even petroleum jelly on paws for protection from the elements.
- Keep baths and haircuts to a minimum. Long hair provides warmth and protection from the elements and washing too often can cause dry, flaky, sensitive skin in winter months. If your dog is getting a little stinky, try dog grooming wipes. Wipes will clean and deodorize your dog without having to give them a full bath and they’re easy and convenient.
- Always walk your dog on a leash. Cold and snow can mask familiar scents making it almost impossible for your dog to find its way home if lost and you certainly don’t want your dog wandering around outside in the cold. Plowed snow piles, blocked roads and poor visibility make it harder for cars to see a dog on the street.
- Keep pets hydrated and well fed, but adjust food amounts based on their activity levels. Dogs tend to get much less exercise in the winter, so you don’t want them to overeat and gain weight.
- Senior dogs need special attention in winter months. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, cold weather may worsen some medical conditions such as arthritis. Arthritic and elderly pets may have more difficulty walking on snow and ice and may be more prone to slipping and falling. Senior pets, as well as pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing’s disease) may have a harder time regulating their body temperature, and may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes.
- Never, ever keep your dogs outside in extreme temperatures. No pet should be kept outside in frigid temperatures. If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for them. If you see an animal left outside in the cold, please do something and call your local animal control office.
The best part about winter is getting comfy, being cozy and relaxing the day away. Who better to do that with than your furry best friend? Stay inside, get warm, cuddle up and keep your pet by your side…right where they love to be and right where they belong.