Dec 05 , 2019
Icy, arctic, winter weather is bearing down on many parts of the country. These cold temperatures not only hurt humans, they can also harm animals. If you can bring your pets inside during the colder weather, please do so. However, if you can’t, here are 12 tips to help keep pets safe in frigid temperatures.
Get a wellness examination. The American Veterinary Association recommends that pets receive an annual checkup before exposing them to cold weather. Chronic medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, hormonal conditions, and kidney issues can make a pet less-tolerant of cold temperatures. A thorough vet examination also helps identify health conditions, like arthritis, that could worsen in icy temperatures.
Reduce walk times. Shorten your dog’s walk time during inclement weather. Pets are individuals. They do not experience cold temperatures the same due to physical differences. Dogs with thick, long, and double-layered coats may tolerate icy weather conditions better than others, but they are still at risk. Short-haired animals have less protective coats. Small canines have bellies and legs that are closer to snow cover. These pets feel extreme conditions faster. Senior dogs may have issues walking in icy conditions.
Recognize signs of hypothermia. Watch for any problems when pets are outside. If your dog is shaking, whining, anxious, shivering, or weak take them inside immediately. These are signs of hypothermia. To determine your pet’s cold-tolerance levels, speak with a qualified veterinarian.
Bundle up your pet for warmth. Keep your pets warm during the winter by dressing them in sweaters or coats. Shielding them from the cold is important, especially if they have low-level, winter-weather tolerance. Carry several coats and sweaters in a handbag. Changing clothing after rough play if their clothing is wet. Damp clothes can possibly cause hypothermia.
Ensure safe outdoor sleeping options. Not all animals are biologically built to withstand cold weather and they need proper shelter to protect them. When building a shelter follow these tips:
Bedding should be a thick pad with a washable cover containing cedar chips or newspaper.
Make sure their house is a few inches off the ground.
Ideally, the square footage of the interior of the shelter should be 36 inches per one inch of the animal’s height.
Make sure the opening is off-center. This will allow pets to comfortably curl in corners to avoid precipitation and drafts.
Winter weather paw care. After walks in icy weather, always examine pet paws. Check if pets have cracked, injured, or bleeding pads that can make it difficult for them to walk. During the winter, keep the furs between dog’s paws clipped short to prevent ice and snow accumulation between the crevices.
During cold weather, more dogs are lost. They cannot find their way back home because there are fewer, familiar smells to guide them home. Make sure your dog is wearing an identification collar or a microchip and be sure identification items have a current address and updated registration.
Keep pets at home. In icy weather, heated cars cool down rapidly. Pets left inside vehicles can freeze, especially if they are in fragile health. Do not leave your pet in unattended vehicles.
Pet-proof your house. Animals spend more time indoors during the winter. Keep your pets and families safe by following these tips:
Make sure that space heaters are securely fastened to prevent pets from knocking them over.
Have a fence around heaters to prevent pet from getting burned.
Install a doggy door, so dogs can go outside quickly to relieve themselves.
Prevent poisoning. Antifreeze can kill pets. Clean up spills as soon as they happen. If your pets have stepped in any de-icers, antifreeze, or other toxic chemicals used on roads, wipe down their feet with a gentle, pet-safe cleanser. Sometimes, dogs and cats lick toxic chemicals off of their paws to clean them. This can poison them. If you’re using de-icers on your drive-way, consider using pet safe ones to protect animals.
Keep emergency supplies on hand. Severe, winter weather can cause power outages without notice. Make sure that you have an emergency kit prepared for pets. Have it stocked with a week’s supply of food, water, and medicine.
Feed your pet a healthy diet. Some owners give their pets extra food to build up their fat. They believe the weight will help their pets tolerate the cold weather. Additional body fat can have long-term health consequences. Always give your pets a healthy, nutritious diet.