by Sloan McKinney
Sloan McKinney is a journalist based in Southern California. After writing about pop culture for a number of years, she has recently begun writing for a new audience. Inspired by DeAnthony, her cat, as well as her dog Max, Sloan now hopes to help other pet owners guarantee their animal companions happy and healthy lives.
Cold winter weather can pose serious threats to your furry four-foot family members. Some threats are obvious while others could be easily looked over until something tragic or fatal occurs. In order to prevent injuries it is vital that pet owners winter-proof their pet’s lives. By properly protecting your animals paws, body and overall safety the risk for injuries and fatal accidents decrease significantly. This guide features important winter pet safety tips that are typically overlooked by pet owners use it to keep your animal safe and alive.
Protect Your Animals Paws
During the winter months rock salt is usually used to melt, the ice and snow plastered to driveways, highways, roadways and sidewalk. Although the salt is useful in clearing the streets the chemical can be very damaging to animals with padded paws, causing burns or even limping by the end of a walk. The following tips can aid in protecting your animals paws throughout the cold season:
- Walk dogs or other animals away from the salty surface on the grass or even in the snow to prevent chemical burns.
- When going for walks or letting your animals outside on their own they should not be out in the cold weather for prolonged periods of time. Being in the cold for too long can result in frostbite on the paws and hypothermia. Avoid long walks instead opt for several short trips outside.
- Animals can also ingest rock salt or other street de-icer from grooming themselves (licking paws) or licking your shoes. Keep a bowl of warm water, warm cloth or dog training pad (also known as underpads) near the doorway in order to wipe off paws and your shoes when re-entering the home. Keep some cloths or underpads in the car as well for easy access while out and about.
- Trim pets with long hair (in between paws too) to prevent ice balls from clinging to hair.
- There a number of products that have been created in order to protect your pet’s paws during the winter such as paw balm, paw wax or pet boots or shoes (e.g. for dogs and cats). A thin layer of balm is applied daily (or every other day) to prevent bleeding and cracking. Paw wax creates a protective coat on the paws when applied before walks. Budget hack: Use cooking spray, petroleum jelly or coconut oil to have a similar effect to paw wax.
- Pet boots or shoes provide the best paw protection because they prevent chemical burns, ice balls from forming on paws and injuries from sharp objects. Boots and shoes also add a touch of style to your pet.
Body care for winter pets
It is vital to care for your pet’s body and coat of fur in order to protect from being damaged in the winter. The following tips can aid in cold weather protection for your pet’s body during the frigid winter months:
- A few weeks before winter begins add a fatty acid supplement to your pet’s diet to protect the coat and skin. Continue supplements until winter ends.
- Elderly and dogs with short coats of hair should have a winter coat or sweater for added heat insulation during walks. Purchase sweaters that cover the neck, belly and tail.
- Do not let dogs off the leash in snow or ice they could lose their scent and easily get lost.
- Prevent frostbite removing ice and snow from hair and paws immediately and by not exposing dogs to subzero weather for extended periods of time. Frost bitten skin may peel off and appears gray, red or whitish in color. If frostbite is suspected contact your veterinarian for further assistance.
- The dry air in the winter usually diminishes moisture from skin and fur. To improve pet circulation, skin and fur brush hair consistently and vigorously.
- When bathing your pet be sure that he is completely dry before going outside.
- Whether you own a small dog, large cat or something in between never shave your pet down to the skin during winter months. Let the coat grow out longer until winter months subside.
Winter pet safety precautions
To avoid chemical burns, frostbite and other potentially fatal accidents during the winter season it is imperative to take the appropriate safety precautions. The following tips will help to ensure your pet’s safety:
- Make sure that dog tags or animal identification tags are current and able to read.
- Due to the change in weather homes tend to be dryer than in warmer seasons, exposing animals to dandruff, dry noses, dry throats, upper respiratory problems, etc. Use a humidifier to keep the air moist and purified.
- Keep a winter pet emergency kit in your car include items such as dog pads (underpads), blankets, first-aid kit, treats, a toy, water bowl and anything else that would be useful in an emergency or unexpected situation.
- Antifreeze, coolant and windshield washers have an appealing taste to pets can be lethal. Keep these items tightly sealed and completely out of reach.
- Provide your pet with a warm dry place to sleep away from doors, drafts and windows.
- Fireplaces and portable heaters can be lethal to both animals and children in the home. Keep a protective screen over fireplaces and only use portable heaters when in the room to monitor.
- Keep animals away from frozen ponds to prevent drowning, hypothermia or other injuries.
- Tap or bang on the hood of your car before entering because sometimes cats and wild animals will crawl on car engines to stay warm.
Do you have vital overlooked or unusual tips that help you and your pet’s navigate the cold winter months? Share your expertise below.