Keeping Pets Safe When the Weather Outside is Frightful

Cold Weather Dog

Pets may wear fur coats 365 days a year, but that doesn’t mean they can withstand winter! Just like us, cats and dogs can suffer from frostbite and hypothermia in cold weather. In addition to the chilly temperatures, there are other potential dangers facing pets during cold weather. So here are a few things to keep in mind as the winter chill sets in.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Well, we haven’t seen much snow yet, but it’s inevitable—winter is coming. So when the snow falls and temperatures dip, don’t leave tiny, short-haired, very young or very old dogs outside without supervision. When they are outdoors, limit the amount of time they spend in the cold. Doggy coats and sweaters are more than just a fashion statement—they can provide warmth and comfort. The same rules apply to dogs with certain health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or kidney disease, as they may have difficulty regulating their body temperatures.

The most wonderful time of the year

Yes, for some pets, winter is the most wonderful time of the year—especially Nordic breed dogs like Siberian huskies and Alaskan malamutes. Even if your dog loves the cold and snow, he should still live primarily indoors with access to a warm, cozy place to sleep. And let’s be honest, one of the best parts about having pets is snuggling up with them on a cold, winter day!

If your dog does spend time outdoors during the winter, make sure he has warm shelter and plenty of fresh water available. Dogs can’t burn calories without water—and if they can’t burn calories, they can’t stay warm! Provide a tip-resistant ceramic or hard plastic bowl rather than a metal one, because when the temperatures are low, a dog’s tongue can stick and freeze to metal (we’ve all seen “A Christmas Story,” right?).

Walking in a winter wonderland

We know your type—you’re dedicated to your daily dog walk, no matter how low the mercury dips! And we applaud you for that! When you do go walking in a winter wonderland, it’s a good idea to shorten the length of your walk and reduce the amount of time you and your dog are exposed to cold temperatures. When you return home, wipe down your dog’s feet, legs and belly, as they may pick up toxic chemicals like antifreeze or deicers along the way. Consider pet-friendly deicers for your own property and clean up any antifreeze spills or leaks immediately.

If your dog suddenly begins limping during a walk, check his paws for cracked pads, bleeding or ice accumulation between toes. Clipping the fur between your dog’s toes or having your dog wear booties can help with these painful cold weather-related issues.

Sleigh ride

OK, so it’s doubtful anyone will be traveling by sleigh this winter, but when you take your preferred mode of transportation, it’s best to leave your pets at home. Just like in hot weather, a car can be a dangerous place for pets during cold weather. Vehicles can become like a refrigerator in cold temperatures and rapidly chill pets left inside.

Baby, it’s cold outside

On a cold winter’s night, neighborhood cats will search for warm shelter. Many times, they will seek refuge in or near a car’s engine. If you leave your car parked outside, make a habit of banging on the hood, checking underneath the car and honking the horn before starting the engine. It could save a kitty’s life.

Looking for a pet to keep warm (and keep you warm!) this holiday season? Check out our adoptable pets now.