Cold Weather Safety

Now that winter is officially here, the temperatures will be getting colder soon. It is important to know how to protect your pet from the elements and avoid cold weather dangers.

Despite a furry coat, dogs and cats are still prone to hypothermia and frostbite in extreme cold. It is best to keep your pet indoors during cold weather, especially at night. Also, make sure your pet has a warm bed away from drafts to sleep in. Dogs with short hair are more likely to feel the effects of frigid temperatures. If your pet gets groomed regularly, it is best to leave their coat longer during the winter. Less frequent bathing will also prevent your pet’s skin from drying out by leaving their natural oils. For dogs with very short hair, a sweater may be necessary to keep them warm.

When walking dogs in the winter cold, it is best to keep the walk shorter and monitor closely for any signs that your dog is uncomfortable or too cold. Pets suffering from arthritis may also have difficulty navigating snow and ice. You can use slip-resistant booties to avoid falls. It is important to protect your pet’s paws from cold weather dangers: Ice-melt/salt can dry and crack paws and can also be harmful if ingested when your pet cleans his/her paws. It is best to wipe their paws thoroughly when returning from outside.

Cats can also be affected by specific cold weather hazards. Oftentimes, cats will huddle up in a warm car engine to find an escape from the cold. Tap on your car’s hood and make some noise to draw out a cat that may have taken shelter under the hood. Antifreeze is another danger to both cats and dogs, so be sure to clean up any leaks and keep the bottle tightly sealed and out of your pet’s reach. To make puddles less enticing, make sure your pet has access to fresh water at all times. A bowl of water can easily freeze outdoors, so make sure any pets that are going in and out have access to drinkable water.

While we do not experience a lot of icy or snowy weather in the Carolinas, we do have an occasional winter storm. Ice and snow can cover or mask normal environmental scents, which makes it easier for a pet to get lost if they wander from home. Make sure your pet stays on a leash or in your immediate vicinity to avoid this danger. It is also a good idea to have your dog or cat microchipped, so they can be identified if found.

Lastly, it is always a good idea to be prepared for an unexpected emergency or power outage. Keep an emergency kit with pet supplies to last several days. This should include extra food and medications for your pet.

Following these simple tips will ensure a safe and toasty winter for you and your pet despite the frigid temperatures outside.