If you live in the Midwest or other regions with that “traditional” winter chill, it’s now time to start thinking about protecting your pets from the winter elements. Here are some tips for safeguarding your pet this season.
Keep Pets Indoors
Keeping your pets indoors as much as possible is important, especially when it comes to short-haired dogs. Never leave any pet out in the winter elements without supervision. The cold has the power to impact your pet even faster than you may think. Exposed skin on the nose, ears and paws can quickly freeze which can cause your precious pet permanent damage. It’s a common belief that dogs and cats are resistant than people to cold weather because of their fur, but it’s untrue. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside.
Investing in a sweater for your pet can be great for walks and can also make for an easier task of getting them to go outside to use the bathroom. It should be noted that many pets don’t tolerate clothing well at first. Get your pet conditioned to wearing clothing before the bulk of the winter season arrives and make it a point to put it on them once a day or once every couple of days. After awhile they won’t mind it as much and will simply appreciate the added warmth.
Invest in Reflective Gear
Walking pets in winter? During winter’s darker days and longer nights, pets can be hard to see. Purchase a reflective collar or leash (and some reflective gear for yourself) so you and your pet are safe while enjoying a brisk winter stroll.
Check Your Car
Warm engines in parked cars have been known to attract cats, who may decide to crawl up under the hood for warmth. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car’s hood to scare them away before starting your engine.
When traveling with pets in the winter, they should never be left unattended in your vehicle- just as they shouldn’t be left alone in extremely hot temperatures. Just as your car can heat quickly in the summer, it can chill quickly in the winter.
Beware of Winter Toxins
Antifreeze is a deadly poison to pets and is extra dangerous because it has a sweet taste that may actually attract animals. It is crucial to immediately and thoroughly clean up spills and to always store antifreeze out of reach of pets. Sidewalk salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet’s feet. When your pets come in from outdoors, be sure to wipe their paws with a damp towel before your pet licks them and causes irritation.
Many pets become lost in winter because snow and ice can hide the scents your animal may recognize that normally help them find their way back home. Make sure your pet has a well-fitting collar with up-to-date identification and contact information. A microchip is a more permanent means of identification, but it’s critical that you keep the registration up to date.
Prepare an Emergency Kit
Winter weather also brings on impending risks of severe weather, such as blizzards or power outages. It’s not a bad idea to prepare an emergency kit with your pet in mind. Have enough food, water and medicine (including any prescription medications) on hand that will get them through at least 4-5 days, in case you become stranded at home.
Be Cautious of Puppies, Kittens and Older Pets
Puppies and kittens as well as older dogs and cats shouldn’t be left outside no matter how well-dressed they may be. Young pets and senior pets simply don’t have the fat, metabolism, or the full fur coat that is required to stay warm when temperatures plunge into the single or negative digits. Take extra special care of these pets.
Making Potty Time Easier
No one (not even your dog) is thrilled at the thought of using the bathroom outside in tundra-like temperatures. You can do your dog a service by clearing a small area in the yard and shoveling path to it from the door. Then encourage your pet to use this spot and they’ll appreciate you even more!