Baby, It's Cold Outside: Winter Pet Safety You Can Count On
We’re just about average when it comes to seasonal highs and lows here in High Ridge; but that doesn’t mean the weather is always safe for pets. Without a doubt, ignoring heat safety in the summer can pose significant risks to health and wellbeing, but the winter is equally dangerous. Between the raw temperatures, biting wind, and freezing precipitation, winter pet safety must remain a top priority.
When it comes to extreme weather, the general rule of thumb is if it’s too hot/cold for you, it’s too hot/cold for your pet. Of course, many pets still need to go outside to answer nature’s call, and it the weather isn’t too extreme to exercise and explore. When that’s the case, be sure to follow these winter pet safety tips:
- Clear a path for your pet that’s free of ice, snow, snow melt, salt, and puddles (if possible).
- Encourage them to return directly to the warm house after being outdoors.
- Because hypothermia is a real risk to animals, outfit your pet in well-fitting booties, a sweater/vest, or waterproof jacket for longer walks.
- Do not allow your cat to spend time outside if temperatures fall below freezing. If you haven’t seen your cat, be sure to bang on the hood of your car before starting it. The engine block can be a snug place for a winter nap.
- Even if you have a pet who enjoys cold weather (and has a thick coat and long legs), still keep a close eye on them. Always be sure they have plenty of clean, unfrozen water and shelter from the wind, snow, and rain.
- Thoroughly wipe down your pet’s coat upon re-entry to the home. Check the paw pads for any abrasions or damage.
- Do not allow your pet to walk on or near frozen water. The risk of accidental drowning during the winter is very real.
Threats to Winter Pet Safety
Some animals are considered higher risk when it comes to cold weather, such as:
- Senior pets
- Puppies or kittens
- Pets with health problems (e.g., diabetes, kidney disease, and Cushing’s disease all result in lack of body temperature regulation)
- Arthritic animals
- Toy and small dog breeds
Some pets need a little boost in body weight during the winter months to help insulate them from the cold, but increasing calories can lead to obesity, diabetes, and other health concerns. Before making any changes to your pet’s diet, please schedule a wellness exam.
People spend over $800 million on antifreeze every winter and purchase over 15 tons of rock salt annually. While both are necessary for our cars to run well in the harsh winter conditions, these chemicals can also cause a pet emergency. Be sure to do the following:
- Store bottles of antifreeze behind cabinet doors
- Clean up any leaks, drips, or spills immediately
- Do not allow your pet to drink from any puddles
- Rinse and wipe the paws, legs, and underbelly after being outdoors
- Call us right away if you suspect your pet has ingested antifreeze
As winter revs into high gear, remember, your pet must have a warm, comfortable place to rest that’s free from drafts. Also be sure to maintain proper nutrition, provide clean drinking water, and, of course, provide plenty of love and snuggles.