Winter Weather and Your Pet

November 27th 2014

Dr. Dirk Dekens, DVM

Winter is here and it can bring extreme temperatures and can put our pets at risk for illness, injury and exposure to the elements. Below are some tips to keep your pet safe this winter.

Limit outdoor exposure

If the weather is below freezing you may wish to limit outdoor playtime as snow and ice can build up on your dog or cats paws and extreme weather can lead to frostbite or hypothermia. Check their paws for ice buildup or bleeding. We carry a balm for pet paws that can help protect their paws and if your dog doesn't mind wearing booties, they are another great option.

Keep your pets paws are trimmed so they will gather less snow and water. Wipe your pets paws and stomach when they come back inside to remove chemicals that can build up on their fur. If you use an ice-melter on your sidewalks or driveway, make sure you choose a pet safe product as rock salt can irritate their skin and paws. Consider using sweaters or coats for your pets if they do not have heavy fur coats.

Our pets get cold too! Very young puppies or kittens do not have thick coats or added fat to protect them from the elements so you may wish to keep them indoors and only briefly take then out to do their business.

Make Shelter for Your Outdoor Pets

Outdoor pets need warm, dry shelters from the elements that will also protect them from the wind if they are to remain outdoors during the day.
Water dishes need heating devices to prevent them from freezing over.

If possible, give your pet options to come inside with a doggy/pet door and create indoor and outdoor sleeping surfaces away from drafts. Outdoor cats will often sleep under the hood of the car where the engine is warm. Check under the hood of your vehicle before starting it to ensure your cat is not there!

Never Leave a Dog/Cat Alone in a Vehicle in the Winter

Pets should not be left alone in cars during the winter, just like summer, due to the extreme temperature changes that can occur, putting your pet at risk. It can be fatal.

Keep Pet Information Up to Date

Ensure you have a license for your dog or cat, with current photographs and documents so should your pet go missing, you have information you can pass on. Your dog or cat should have an identification tag on its collar at all times as this will improve the chances that they will be returned. It is wise to do this even if your cat is an indoor cat since you never know when they may slip out the door!

Transporting Your Pets

Like people, our pets need to be safe and secure in the vehicle and this can be done by harness or an approved pet carrier. Just as we prepare for winter driving with an emergency kit on board, it is wise to consider this for your pet, with having an extra blanket, water, dry food and medications. An extra leash and a copy of your pet’s medical records are also useful to travel with. For longer road trips you may wish to consider taking a small litter tray for your cat. Having familiar objects around them can make your dog or cat feel more at ease emotionally and if they are more relaxed hopefully their owners can be as well.

Stay warm and safe this winter!

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