We’re approaching a new year, but we’re also approaching the heart of winter where temperatures will be bitter cold and precipitation will take on frozen forms. While the weather won’t stop our pets from going out to do their business or play in the snow, there are many ways we can keep them protected from the elements of winter. Here are some tips to help pets stay safe and healthy during winter weather.
1. Manage Time Outdoors
No matter what the weather is like, dogs have to go outside to take care of business. And when it snows, many pets want to join us in the fun of snowball fights and building snowmen. So, the outdoors is inevitable, but you can manage how long they are outside and know what their limits are. Try to keep bathroom trips and outdoor playtime short, especially if your pet is more sensitive to cold temperatures. Long exposure to cold temperatures and precipitation can lead to your pet getting sick even after being brought back in. It’s best to keep pets indoors unless otherwise necessary.
2. Clear Path and Check Chemicals
If your pet does go outside, make sure they have a path cleared out in the snow to the area where they do their business. And be careful with any chemicals or salt products you put down to prevent ice. Antifreeze, for instance, smells and tastes sweet to pets but it’s toxic to them. Consider using a brand made from non-toxic propylene glycol, like Safe Paw. Products like Safe Paw are equally effective in getting rid of ice, but they are safe for pets, children and the environment because they don’t contain corrosive salts, chemicals or dyes that can be harmful.
3. Inspect and Clean Pets
Might be your routine for when it rains or your pet gets covered in mud, but it’s also a good practice for when it is cold or there is winter precipitation. Whether they are outside for bathroom breaks or walks, no matter how long, check your pet’s ears, paws and tail for any sign of frostbite or ice and snow buildup. Not only could it make them sick, it could cause internal damage and pain. And every time they come back inside, have a dry, clean towel handy, like the Tall Tails Cape Pocket Towel, to wipe down their legs, belly and paws so that any winter elements and products they encounter don’t irritate their skin and can’t be ingested when they lick themselves.
4. Another Layer of Protection
While grooming is imperative for pets all year round, try to avoid cutting your pet’s fur in the wintertime. Pets’ winter coat is a natural barrier from the harsh, cold elements so it will give them extra warmth when they go outside. Therefore, pets with longer or more fur don’t need an extra layer to go outside. Smaller pets and those with shorter coats may have more benefit and comfort by wearing a dog sweater or jacket, like the Silverton Weatherproof dog coat by Outward Hound, which is made to keep pets warm and dry from the wind, snow and rain.
5. Think Twice About Pets and Cars
This is imperative in the winter time. Stay cats, for instance, try to find warm areas when it is cold outside. One such place is near the engine of cars. Many cats get injured and/or killed from people turning on their cars not knowing the cats are there. To keep them safe, gently bang on the hood and sides of your car before you get in and turn it on. The banging will spook them out of your car. And for your own pets who join you in the car, do not leave them in a cold car. It’s just as dangerous to leave them in a cold car as it is to leave them in a hot car in the summertime.
6. Relieve Anxiety
Not all pets are fond of the cold weather, especially those who have come from abusive situations and used to be left in the cold. So, if you have a pet who gets anxious or nervous to go outside for a bathroom break or during an extreme winter storm, give your pets products that will help relieve their anxiety, like CBD supplements. Canna-Pet has CBD supplements that contains concentrated, naturally-occurring cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids from hemp to help naturally ease your pet’s anxiety. These and other CBD products help comfort pets in a safe and healthy manner.
7. Visible Wear and Updated Identification
More pets become lost in the winter than any other season because snowfall can disguise recognizable scents that would normally help them find their way home. Prevent your pets from becoming lost by keeping dogs leashed on walks or within the vicinity of your property. And give them reflective gear, like Corky’s Reflective Wear, so they can be seen during the dark hours of winter. In case you are separated from your pets, make sure they are licensed, microchipped and they are wearing up-to-date identification tags so that they can be returned safely to you.
8. Keep Pets Hydrated
This may seem like an unnecessary tip, but it’s actually a common misconception during the wintertime to not need water as often as in the warmer seasons. Dehydration can happen at any time in any season. In fact, winter air is dry and can be just as dangerous as the heat in the summer. It’s very important to make sure your pet has plenty of fresh, clean water to drink throughout the day.
9. Give Shelter
For any strays you have around that spend most of the time outdoors, give them shelter to keep them warm and dry. If possible, bring them indoors during sub-zero temperatures. For the rest of the time, offer a shelter space that is large enough to allow them to sit and lay down comfortable but also small enough to conserve body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. Have the shelter face away from wind and cover the doorway with waterproof materials. They also need more food to replace energy lost from trying to stay warm so use plastic food and water dishes.
10. Be Prepared
Like any season, winter can bring extreme weather that causes possible power outages and more. It’s always good to be prepared for situations like this. Have an emergency kit with enough food, water and medication, like Sturtevants Canine Formula (also available for cats), to last your pets at least five days. Hopefully and most likely you will never need it, but should the situation arise, you and your pet will be thankful you planned ahead!