Winter weather can pose safety concerns for your pets. Make sure your pet is safe and comfortable when cold weather hits by following these tips:
- Pets can develop frostbite and hypothermia. Bring outdoor pets indoors when temperatures drop. While some breeds are more cold-tolerant, no pets should be left outside for long periods of time when temperatures drop below freezing.
- Shorten the time your pet spends outside and on walks in cold weather.
- Consider sweaters and jackets for pets who are going outside, especially small breeds and short-coated breeds.
- If your pet has been outside in the snow, cold rain, sleet, or freezing rain, be sure to towel dry them off (and remove any snow or ice that might be stuck on their body or in between toes).
- Check feet regularly if your pet is going outside. The ice and snow can cause irritation, cracks and cuts on the feet. Booties can be a great way to protect your pet's feet when they have to go outside in the cold, snow or ice.
- Some ice melts can irritate the skin and pads of animal's feet, or they can be toxic if the pet licks them off and ingests them. Try and use pet-friendly ice melting agents if possible. If you believe your pet has walked on ice melting products when outdoors, rinse the feet off once you get back inside where it is warm. Depending on how close to the ground your pet's stomach and chest are, you may need to rinse those off as well.
- Avoid fully shaving your pet during the cold weather. They need their fur for warmth.
- Be mindful that young pets, old pets, and pets with certain medical conditions may be even less cold tolerant. Monitor your pet closely for signs of problems or discomfort if they have to go outdoors.
- Be sure to provide cozy bedding and a nice place to snuggle inside!
- Never leave your pet alone in a parked car, especially in the cold.
- Antifreeze is toxic to pets. Clean up any leaks or spills promptly so pets will not ingest the antifreeze.
- Don't start your car engine until you are sure an animal has not crawled up in the hood to find warmth. Check under your car and make noise by honking your horn before starting the engine.
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Author: Dr. C. Noureddine, DVM, MS