Feb 12 2016

Cold Weather Safety Tips

Know the limits:  Pets, like people, tolerance for cold weather varies based on their coat thickness, age, body condition (fat stores), activity level and health.  Be mindful of what your pet’s tolerance for the cold may be.  Dogs with shorter coats feel the cold much faster than their long-haired counterparts.  If you dog is low to the ground, its stomach and legs will get colder than a taller dog.  Arthritic pets may have more difficulty walking on the snow and ice.  If you need help determining your pet’s temperature limits, call us for help.

Playing Dress-up:  Your dog may need a coat or sweater if they are short haired or older.  You may want to have several different clothing options on hand so that you can put a dry one on each time your pet goes outdoors.  Wearing a wet coat or sweater in cold weather will only make your dog colder.  Some pet owners use booties to protect their dog’s feet, if you decide to use bootie, make sure they fit properly to avoid slipping.  

Check the paws:  Check your dog’s paws frequently when outside for signs of injury or damage such as cracked or bleeding pads.  Snow and ice can build up between their toes and form hard ice balls that can be painful, be sure to trim the fur frequently to  help reduce the risk of these ice balls forming.

Wipe Down:  It is a good idea to wipe your dog down after walks.  Sometimes they can pick up chemicals such as antifreeze or ice melts that can be toxic if licked.  You also may want to consider pet-safe deicer on your own property and encourage your friends, family and neighbors to do the same.

Identification:  Many pets become lost in the winter.  A snow cover can hide familiar scents and pets can become disoriented and may not be able to find their way back home if they get out.  Be sure they have proper identification.  A microchip and a well-fitting collar with current contact information is important.  

Car Safety:  We all know the dangers of hot cars in the summer time, but cold cars can be just as dangerous.  Pets should not be left unattended in a cold vehicle, cars can become cold like a refrigerator very quickly.  You may find that your pet would be happier staying home.

Provide Shelter:  We do not recommend leaving your pet outdoors for long periods of time in cold temperatures, but if you are unable to keep them indoors or if there are known feral or stray animals in your area, provide them with warm, solid shelter against the wind.  The floor should be off the ground to prevent heat loss into the ground with thick, dry bedding that is changed regularly.  The door should be protected from the wind.  Do not use space heaters or heating lamps to avoid burns or fire.  A fresh source of non-frozen water should be provided at all times.

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