Cold Weather Safety for Pets

Though we don’t often see winter temperatures until January-March, Texas weather is unpredictable. Cats and dogs are just as susceptible to cold weather exposure as humans. We’ve got some tips to keep your pet safe from cold weather dangers this winter.

Grooming

Frequent bathing, particularly during cold months, can remove essential oils necessary to keep your pet’s skin healthy. Try to bathe your pooch less or ask for a moisturizing shampoo to keep their skin from becoming dry and flaky.

Never shave your pet’s fur to the skin in winter. While it can be appealing in order to keep shedding down, it can be potentially dangerous for your pet. It goes without saying that a longer coat provides adequate warmth. Trim long hair as needed to help with grooming and debris build-up. For short-haired pets, consider getting a sweater with a high collar that covers from the base of the tail to the belly.

Winter Exercise

A day in the snow is always fun, but once playtime is over, make sure your pet is dry and comfortable. Frequently coming out of the cold and into a warm home can cause itchy, flaky skin. Keep your home humidified and dry your furbaby off with a towel immediately.

Always check paws after icy or snowy walks for signs of cold weather damage or injury. This includes cracked paws, redness, or frostbite. Wipe clean all paws, legs, and the underbelly to rid them of potential de-icing agents, salt, or antifreeze. If ingested, these chemicals could poison your pet. Massaging petroleum jelly or paw protectants onto paw pads is a great way to keep paws safe in winter. Booties can also provide added safety. However, most pets will need to adjust to having footwear.

Feeding

Monitor your pet’s weight during winter. Active/outdoor dogs and cats will burn more energy during winter months; thus, requiring more calories to keep them warm. Keep your pets in a healthy range at this time. Always consult your veterinarian before adjusting your pet’s diet. Those extra calories can be difficult to burn off.

Winter Wellness

The winter season can be harder on elderly or disabled pets, as they’re prone to slips or falls. Cold weather may worsen some medical conditions like arthritis. Pets with heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, and hormonal imbalances may have a harder time regulating their body temperature. The same goes for very young or very old pets. Know your furbaby’s limits.

Stay Warm and Stay Inside

Dogs and cats should be kept indoors at all times during cold weather. Like humans, they are susceptible to exposure, frostbite, and hypothermia.

Signs of hypothermia include:

  • Shivering
  • Whining
  • Anxiety
  • Slowed movement or no movement
  • Weakness
  • Burrowing for warmth

If you notice any of these signs in your pet, get them inside and call your vet immediately.

We all know the dangers of leaving a pet in a hot car during the summer, but a cold car can be equally dangerous. Cars in winter become like refrigerators and can rapidly cool your pet. Limit car travel during winter months, and never leave your pet in a car unattended.

Provide warmth and shelter to all pets. Give your pet ample, warm bedding, and keep sleeping areas away from any drafts. Heated pet mats are a good option but should be used with caution because they can cause burns.

It isn’t recommended to keep any pet outside for long periods of time, but if you must, provide a warm, solid shelter that can sustain wind and wet weather. The floor of the shelter should be off of the ground to prevent heat loss, and it should be covered with blankets and bedding. Make sure your fubabies have access to fresh food and unfrozen water.

Pet-Proof Your Home

With all this extra time spent indoors, it doesn’t hurt to ensure your home is pet safe. Lock away and properly store all chemicals, medications, and potentially hazardous foods. Never leave a pet unattended near an open flame. Use caution with space heaters – they can cause burns or fires if knocked over or used improperly. Check furnaces before use to ensure they’re working properly, and install carbon monoxide detectors to protect your and your family.

These simple tasks can make all the difference in keeping your pet safe this winter. If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pet.