These Tips Keep Your Pets Safe This Winter
Winter can be a beautiful but challenging season, especially for our beloved pets. As temperatures drop and the landscape transforms, pet owners need to take extra precautions to ensure their furry friends stay safe and healthy. Here are some essential tips to keep in mind:
- Limit Outdoor Time: Pets can suffer from frostbite, particularly on sensitive areas like ear flaps and tail tips. In severe cold, it’s best to keep pets indoors, except for breeds that are accustomed to low temperatures.
- Monitor Temperature: Pets can freeze, become disoriented, or even injured in cold weather. If it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet. Keep them inside where they’re safe and warm.
- Clean Paws and Stomach: After walks, wash and dry your pet’s feet and stomach. They might step in ice, salt, and chemicals, which can be painful. Also, check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes.
- Paw Protection: Apply petroleum jelly or vet-approved paw creams to your pet’s pads before going outside. Booties offer even better protection during walks.
- Humidify Your Home: The cycle of going from cold outside to warm inside can cause skin irritation in pets. Keeping your home humidified and toweling your pet dry as soon as they come in can prevent this.
- Avoid Shaving Your Dog: Longer coats provide more warmth. If your dog is long-haired, trim them to minimize ice balls, salt crystals, and de-icing chemicals clinging to their fur.
- Less Frequent Baths: Bathing too often can remove essential oils and increase the chance of developing dry, flaky skin. If necessary, use a moisturizing shampoo recommended by your vet.
- Beware of Antifreeze: This is lethal for dogs and cats. Clean up spills immediately and consider using products containing propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol.
- Increased Food During Winter: Pets burn extra energy keeping warm, so they might need a little extra food during the winter months. Ensure they have plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- Secure Sleeping Spot: Ensure your pet has a cozy bed off the floor and away from drafts, ideally with a warm blanket or pillow.
- Leash Safety in Snow: Dogs can lose their scent in snow and easily become lost. Keep them leashed, especially during snowstorms.
- Check for Outdoor Cats: Before starting your car, check under the hood and around the wheel wells for cats seeking warmth near the engine.
- Outdoor Pet Precautions: For pets who spend time outdoors, ensure they have access to non-frozen drinking water and more food, as keeping warm depletes energy.
- Holiday Decor and Food: Keep poinsettias, decorations, and toxic foods like chocolate and macadamia nuts out of reach. Also, be cautious with holiday guests and ensure pets don’t escape through open doors.
- Advocate for Outdoor Dogs: Support local efforts to ensure all dogs have access to adequate shelter and protection from the elements.
- Care for Horses and Livestock: Ensure they have access to a barn or shelter, unfrozen water, and increased forage during extreme cold.
- Help Community Animals: Assist outdoor and community animals by providing shelters, food, and water.
- Speak Out Against Neglect: If you see a pet left in the cold, inform the owner. If the neglect continues, follow appropriate steps to report it.
Remember, our pets rely on us for their safety and comfort, especially during the harsh winter months. By following these guidelines, you can ensure they stay healthy and enjoy the season safely.