In case you hadn't noticed, winter is here! While some pets enjoy the cold weather, it can be a difficult season for many. Our top ten tips to keeping pets warm and safe are:
If you're cold, they are cold! Keep pets inside and know that it is okay to skip a walk in dangerously cold weather.
Provide shelter for outdoor pets. If pets cannot come indoors, provide protection from the elements with a a dry, draft-free enclosure large enough to allow them to sit and lie down, but small enough to hold in their body heat. Raise the floor a few inches off the ground and cover it with cedar shavings or straw. Turn the enclosure away from the wind and cover the doorway with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.
Protect their paws. Salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate a pet’s paws. Wipe paws with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates their mouth. The ASPCA adds that you can also use petroleum jelly or booties to protect sensitive paws.
Take care of their coat and skin. To avoid itchy, flaking skin, the ASPCA recommends that you keep your home humidified and suggests that you towel dry your pet as soon as they come inside. Pay special attention to paws and in-between the toes. Remove any snow from between foot pads. If possible, keep your dog’s coat longer in winter for warmth. If your dog is short-haired, consider getting a coat or sweater for outdoor adventures. Keep pet bathing to a minimum when it’s cold to avoid dry skin. If your pet needs a bath, use a moisturizing shampoo.
Clean up any antifreeze spills. Antifreeze is deadly to cats and dogs. Consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Keep antifreeze out of reach.
Check your engine. A warm vehicle engine can be an appealing heat source for outdoor and feral cats, but it's deadly. Check underneath your car, bang on the hood, and honk the horn before starting the engine to make sure a cat hasn’t taken refuge on your engine.
Use space heaters with caution. The heater can burn your pet or be knocked over, possibly starting a home fire.
Watch for hypothermia. If your pet is whining, shivering, anxious, slower than usual or stops moving, seems weak or starts looking for warm places to burrow, get them back inside quickly because they are showing signs of hypothermia. If you suspect your pet has hypothermia, consult your veterinarian immediately.
Feed your pet a little extra in the winter months. In the winter, our pets burn extra energy as their bodies work a little harder to stay warm. Make sure they are also drinking plenty of water, it will help keep them, and their skin, hydrated.
Be prepared. Winter can bring blizzards and power outages. Prepare an emergency kit and include your pet in your plans. Have enough food, water and medicine (including any prescription medications as well as heartworm and flea/tick preventives) on hand to get through at least five days.