A stately looking senior dog sits in the snowWhile our average winter temperatures can’t be described as extreme, they still have an effect on the animals we love. While we can look up the weather on our phones and dress accordingly, our pets don’t exactly have this luxury. Sure, there are some extremely well-dressed short-haired dogs out there, but for the sake of other pets, let’s take a closer look at winter pet safety.

Know the Risks

Despite the fact your pet has a fur coat, they’re still at risk for hypothermia and frostbite. An exposed nose, paw pads, and ears are more vulnerable to the cold. Of course, you want to provide daily activities, even on the coldest days, but it’s critical to know when your pet has been outside too long. A good rule of thumb is if it’s too cold for you, it’s definitely too cold for your pet. While they may push their limit, winter pet safety means curtailing extended outdoor playtime.

Degrees of Separation

Unsafe conditions for pets start around 40 degrees. Anything below that can be hazardous, particularly for smaller breeds (like Chihuahuas). There have been fatalities associated with pets suffering in temperatures below 15 or 20 degrees.

Some pets enjoy colder temperatures, like German shepherds or huskies, but that doesn’t mean they should be outside without access to shelter, water, and food. Extra time outdoors can lead to health risks and increases exposure to chemicals like rock salt and antifreeze. Being cold can also suppress the body’s ability to ward off illness.

Gear Up

The good news is that pets can still enjoy nature without freezing their tails off! Specially designed booties, insulated vests, and cozy sweaters all help keep them warm and comfortable during cold weather.

Just as you wouldn’t leave your pet alone in a parked car during the summer, you should never leave your pet outside in your vehicle during winter months.

Shelter from the Storm

Winter pet safety should also involve a different approach to nutrition. In colder weather, some animals benefit from more daily calories since they burn up more energy keeping warm. Just be sure to consult your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet’s diet.

Other winter pet safety considerations include:

  • Drafts can trigger and/or exacerbate painful symptoms of osteoarthritis. Be sure to keep your aging or senior pet on a cushy, comfy surface away from cold air. Likewise, be sure they don’t slip on icy surfaces and wet or muddy floors.
  • Always clean up any leaks or spills of antifreeze. It has a sweet taste that tends to attract pets, but it can lead to fatal consequences.
  • Wipe off your pet’s paws each time they enter the house. Keep the hairs on their feet and between the paw pads trimmed.
  • Make sure any drinking water left outside doesn’t freeze and remains fresh and accessible for your pet.
  • Tap on the hood of your car before starting it up. Cats like to climb up on the engine block to keep warm.

Well-Rounded Winter Pet Safety

Please help animal lovers everywhere by looking out for pets and strays in need. The cooler months can be dangerous, and your compassionate care can go a long way to ensuring their survival.

As always, please contact the team at Clairmont Animal Hospital with any questions or concerns about winter pet safety.