Top Winter Care Tips for your Pets
Winter is a time for bundling up and keeping warm but that also means keeping your pets warm too! When you think of weather safety with your pets, you may naturally think of leaving animals in hot cars during summer. But did you know that cold weather also poses a serious threat to your animal as well?
A fur coat does not mean a warm pet. Be aware of your pet's tolerance for cold weather! Hypothermia is a possibility for animals so it’s best to keep your pet indoors as much as possible. When outside, check on your pets regularly, and if they are outside for long periods of time, make sure they have covered shelter with plenty of food and water. Blankets and thick towels are a great way to help keep your animal warm after being outside.
You may also need to shorten your dog's walks this weather too in order to protect you both from weather-associated health risks. Long-haired or thick-coated dogs tend to be more cold-tolerant, but are still at risk in cold weather. Short-haired pets feel the cold faster because they have less protection, and pets lower to the ground may become colder faster because their bodies are more likely to come into contact with the snow or ice.
Winter wellness: Has your pet had a wellness exam recently? Cold weather may worsen some medical conditions, such as arthritis. Pets with diabetes or heart disease, for instance, may have a harder time regulating their body temperature in this wintery weather. The same goes for very young and very old pets. While your pets should get an exam at least once a year now is as good a time as any to get them checked out!
Check the paws: Check your pet's paws frequently for signs of injury or damage, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding. After each walk, dry your pet’s feet and stomach to remove ice, salt, and chemicals. Consider them wearing booties or trim the fur between their pads to prevent a buildup of ice. We recommend bringing a towel on long walks to clean off stinging and irritated paws too.
Keep your pet hydrated in cold weather. Dehydration can be life-threatening in cold weather. If your pets are outside, make sure their water bowls are filled with clean water that is not frozen.
Avoid standing water. Standing water, like puddles or lakes, can give your pet digestive issues and may even carry parasites or toxins. When outdoors, make sure your pets don’t take a drink of any standing water and remember to bring fresh, clean water for your pet.
Be aware of chemicals used in cold weather. Chemicals used to melt snow or protect gardens in the winter are dangerous to pets. Keep a close eye on pets when they are outside, and store all chemicals out of reach. Wipe your pet’s feet, legs, tails, and stomachs when your back from your walk so they don’t have a chance to lick off any potential toxins that may have stuck on them.
Don’t leave pets in the car. We all know that hot cars pose a threat to pets, but cold cars are dangerous as well. It can act as a refrigerator in cold weather and can rapidly chill your pet. Animals that are young, old, ill or thin are particularly susceptible to the cold and shouldn't be left in a cold car.
Feed them well, with a slight caveat. Keep your pet at a healthy weight throughout the winter. While we all indulge during the winter season, that little extra weight on your pet has negative health risks associated with it, including heart disease and high blood pressure. Keep an eye out on their weight throughout the season. If they are outdoor pets or are getting exercise outside, they will need more calories in the winter to generate enough body heat and energy to keep them warm.