Pet safety tips for the winter season
Last updated: January 1
Winter can bring cold temperatures, snow or ice to your area. While you're likely prepared to take on the winter season by breaking out the warm clothing and shovels, what about your pets? Here's how you can help keep your four-legged family members comfortable and safe all winter long.
Keep your pet warm
While they still face risks in cold weather, pets with thick or long hair tend to be more tolerant of the cold, says the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). When you groom your long-haired pet, consider simply trimming its fur (not shaving it down to their skin), to help keep it warmer in the cold, suggests the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
On the other hand, short-haired pets tend to get cold faster, as they have less fur to insulate their body. Dogs with short fur may benefit from a pet sweater or coat to help them stay warm, says the ASPCA.
Protect their paws from de-icing chemicals
Salt and other de-icing chemicals can be harmful to your pet. Before taking your dog outside, massage petroleum jelly or a paw-protectant solution on their paw pads to help prevent redness and irritation, recommends the ASPCA. Winter boots made for pets may also be a good idea to help protect their paws.
When bringing your pet back inside, use a towel to wipe down their paws and belly to help remove any chemical residue from their body, says the Humane Society of the United States. This can help prevent your pet from ingesting harmful chemicals if they lick their paws.
Limit their time outdoors
The American Kennel Club says that like humans, dogs and cats may be susceptible to frostbite — especially on their earflaps and tails. It's a good idea to keep dogs inside when possible, and take shorter walks in the winter, says the AVMA.
Emergency preparedness for your pets
Power outages or winter weather-related disasters can be a real threat to you and your pets if winter weather becomes severe in your area, says the AVMA. Consider creating an emergency kit for your pets in case this happens. Include things like three to seven days' worth of water and food (per pet), a blanket, toys and a flashlight.
Cold temperatures may pose health risks to cats and dogs. But, taking some precautions can help make winter more enjoyable for you and your pets. Remember these tips when the cold season arrives so you can be better prepared.