Playing in the snow with your pet can be a wonderful experience, but harsh winter conditions also bring unique risks. Here are some of the most common dangers and easy ways to keep your pets safe and happy until springtime.
Watch Out For Dry Skin
Like humans, many animals are prone to dry, itchy skin in the winter. Keep a humidifier going to balance out the dryness of the air, and dry your dog thoroughly after playing in the snow or mud. Try to minimize bathing because even gentle shampoos can irritate sensitive skin.
Keep a Towel Handy On Walks
It’s wise to keep a towel by the door to wipe off muddy paws, but consider taking one with you on walks, too. Use it to periodically wipe off your dog’s paws to prevent ice and snow from building up and to clean off irritating de-icing chemicals.
Watch Out For Chemical Hazards
Antifreeze, engine coolant, de-icers and more all pose risks to your pets. Be sure to store these chemicals safely in your home and clean up any spills immediately. While on walks, keep your dog away from anything that looks like it could be a fresh spill or chemical container.
Compensate With Calories
Staying warm burns extra calories, so your pets may need a little extra food to stay comfortable. This is especially true for senior pets, who often struggle the most with cold weather. Don’t overdo it, though–your pets don’t need to be overweight to stay warm.
Learn To Identify Winter Illnesses
Although most pets have warm, fluffy coats to keep them warm, they still are at risk of hypothermia and frostbite. Pay special attention to their ears, paws, and the tips of their tails. Call your vet if you notice any freezing skin that doesn’t seem to warm up, or if your pet seems lethargic or can’t stop shivering.
Stay Cozy Indoors
Just like you love curling up in front of a crackling fireplace, your pet might enjoy a little extra warmth this winter. Make sure there are plenty of warm places to sleep so your pet isn’t curled up on a cold floor. Consider a heated bed, especially for older or arthritic pets.
Don’t Let Your Pet Eat Snow
Some dogs love to scarf up snow, but be careful about allowing it. Too much snow can cause digestive problems or contribute to hypothermia. Snow may also be contaminated by chemicals or hide hidden objects that could make your pet sick.
Protect Those Paws
De-icing chemicals and salt can irritate your pets’ paws. Use a protective formula, such as petroleum jelly or Musher’s Secret, to coat your dog’s paws before walks, or buy protective booties for added safety. Consider keeping your cat inside following storms.
Fur is pretty good at keeping moisture out, but eventually it can get uncomfortable. Make sure your pet’s bedding stays dry, and avoid any frigid winter swims.
Keep a Close Eye On Your Pet
More pets are lost during the winter than during any other time of year. Keep your dog on leash when walking after dark, and watch out during the holidays to make sure guests don’t accidentally let your indoor cat or dog slip out the door.
It might take a little more work to keep your pets safe during cold winter weather, but these simple tips can keep everyone healthy and comfortable. Start preparing your pup for the next snowstorm with these protective booties.
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