Winter Pet Safety Tips

Now that the "dog" days of summer are in the rearview mirror, pet owners like you are breathing sighs of relief. Their furry loved ones made it through the extreme heat without any serious problems.

But don't get too relaxed just yet. Although autumn's crisp, cool weather is what the doctor ordered, the cold, winter months can be hard on our pets. Winter pet safety is as important to think about as summer concerns.

Dog with jacket

Watch Out for Danger When it's Cold Outdoors

Extreme cold brings with it dry air and bone-chilling precipitation-a surefire recipe for chapped paw pads and other skin problems in dogs and cats.

It might be like a refrigerator out there, but your furry family members can keep warm and safe. Use these winter pet safety tips to protect the animals you love when outdoor temps are too cold for them.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland with Pets

The first thing to consider is how your pet is going to get their exercise. Most animals love being outdoors.

Yours might be one of the few pets that turn up their noses when it's time to head outside. If so, and they're always indoors, it's going to be easier for you to keep them warm. You can move on to the "indoor safety tips."

Dog in winter

However, most dogs and cats think frolicking in the cold weather is one of the best times of their lives. Keeping them inside can be like pinning down a wave.

It's Okay to Let Your Pet Play Outside

Here's the thing.

You can let your dog or cat play and get their much-needed exercise in the fresh air. It's actually healthy for them. The key is to keep your pets warm as much as possible. You can do this with these tips:

  • Invest in a cold-weather outfit that covers your pet's paws and legs, like Walkee Paws. These keep their feet from touching the frozen ground during winter walks. Even more important, it protects them from the chemicals and salt on the ground that they can lick off later.
  • Know the risk level your pet has when it comes to playing in the wind, snow, and cold temperature. For instance, an older or younger short-haired Yorkie is going to have less time outside before they get too cold than a Husky would. Not sure about your pup's health risk? Talk to your veterinarian before you take any chances.
  • Check your car engine before you start it up. Many cats are used to being outside. Their heavier coat protects them better than a sweater would. But when it gets too cold, many cats tend to head to covered places for shelter, like under your car's hood. They can also drink the antifreeze without realizing the chemicals are deadly.
  • Keep your pet on a leash. They want to go bounding into the snow, but what happens if they get lost? Hit a deep snowbank? In the winter weather, leashing your animals is an essential part of their safety.

Every pet has limits to how long it can be outside in cold weather. Don't make them have to seek shelter in dangerous places. Know where your pet is at all times and pay attention to how long they've been outside.

Take Care of Your Pet's Skin

Have you ever noticed that your skin dries up more in the winter? You need a lot of lotion to protect your skin in the dry, cold months, and so do your pets.

Coming out of the cold and into your dry, warm home is cozy. However, it's also the perfect recipe for skin conditions like itching and flaking.

To prevent this, keep your home's humidity at the proper levels for your location. Wipe your pet with a towel when they come inside, especially in sensitive areas, like the nose, between the toes, and on the paw pads.

A cat or dog's coat is how they keep their body heat. Don't use the wintertime to try out a new haircut for your pet. Let their coats grow as long as possible so their body temperature is regulated.

taking care of dog

Grooming Your Pets

Pet owners can also dress up their furry friends in a coat or sweater. As long as you find one that is comfortable for them, let them walk around in their clothes. Pay attention to signs of overheating, like panting.

Baths are important. During the cold months, though, try to avoid bathing. Trim the hair to get rid of chunks of ice and salt crystals on your pets. Clean their paws to get rid of invisible antifreeze or other chemicals they may have come in contact with. If you have to bathe your dog, talk to your vet about the right shampoo to avoid dry or flaky skin.

One more thing: When your skin is dry and uncomfortable, you can grab some lotion and fix the problem. Your pet can't tell you that their paws are cracking. Have some resources on hand, like paw protectants or petroleum jelly. When your cat or dog is relaxing with you, massage the lotion on their paws to be safe.

Clean Up After Your Cars

Cats aren't the only animals who eat and drink whatever's on the menu nearby. Wildlife and strays that are looking for food will search your yard. What will they find around your car?

In cold climates, we use certain chemicals to keep our cars drivable. Ice on the windshield or freezing tanks can damage or destroy the vehicle.

However, chemicals like coolant and antifreeze are lethal to any animals that ingest them. If you spill the liquid as you're pouring it into your car engine, clean it up thoroughly. Even a few drops on your pet's feet can be harmful to their health if it's licked off.

Feeding and Sleeping Tips

A lesser-known fact about cats and dogs is that they burn more energy in cold weather. As they're trying to stay warm, their body temperature takes extra calories to work.

Because of this, pets may need more food during the winter than in the summer. They'll also benefit from lots of water to avoid dry skin. As always, check with your veterinarian before you change the diet of your dog or cat. Too much food can cause obesity, a serious health issue for many pets.

Dog's sleeping in cozy bed

Everyone Needs a Cozy Bed

Where is your pet sleeping in the cold weather? Outside animals will search for a warm place to rest. It's important that you provide one for them so they don't use dangerous spots, like the hood of cars.

Wherever you put a home for outdoor animals, make sure it is covered from snow and wind. It should also be high enough to keep them warm and away from ice and the wet, cold ground, but low enough for them to access it.

Pets kept indoors need a warm, cozy place to sleep, too. Floors get very chilly at night. Your pet's bed should be away from drafts and off the floor. Otherwise, their health could suffer without you understanding why.

When to Seek Veterinary Services

A cat or dog will use its paws to walk and sense danger. If something is stuck in its toes, it might limp when it walks. This could cause your pet to slide on ice or slippery surfaces easier. Walking will be difficult, and the problem may worsen.

If you think your pet is having trouble breathing or their paw pads are cracking no matter what you do, contact the veterinary office immediately. Your vet knows the problems winter weather creates for a dog, cat, and any other haired animal. Let them guide you as you search for a solution to your furry loved one's cold weather issues.

Protect Your Pup this Winter Season

While it's fun to play in a winter wonderland, you have to protect your pet's paws! Ice, snow and winter salt chemicals can all harm your dog. Winter boots can be bulky and hard to keep on. Walkee Paws are designed with each season in mind, so your pup won't have to get used to a new shoe! Just make sure to keep their paws covered while playing in the snow.