Winter Pet Safety Tips

By Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Even though the official first day of winter was only a couple of weeks ago, depending on where you live, it may have already felt like winter for a month or more.

Just like some people, some pets are thrilled when colder weather and snow arrive – they can’t wait to go out and frolic, they never seem to get cold, and they’re never happier than when they’re bounding through deep snow drifts. Then there are the ones who hunker down in a comfy spot at the first sign of a chill in the air and only go out when they have no other choice.

Whether your pet is one who loves the winter weather or one who would prefer to observe the winter wonderland from the comfort of a cozy window seat, you’ll want to make sure that he stays safe and healthy throughout the cold season. Here are a few winter safety tips for pet parents to keep in mind.

Winter Pet Safety Tips

Keep Them Warm

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that, just because your dog or cat has a built-in fur coat, he can’t get cold. The truth is that our furry friends feel the cold and the wind chill just like we do, and, if they spend too much time out in the freezing cold, they can be at risk for hypothermia. Pets can also get frostbite, especially on poorly protected areas like noses, ears, and paw pads.

The safest place for pets during the winter is inside where it’s warm. Of course you’ll need to make sure that they still get out for frequent walks and exercise, but these may need to be for shorter periods of time than when the weather is milder. Short-haired dogs may be more comfortable wearing a sweater for an extra layer of protection against the cold. Some pet parents also use booties to protect paws from the snow and ice.

pet winter safety

Chilly, Cola, and Soupy out for a snowy walk.

Supply Plenty of Food and Water

Staying warm in the winter months takes extra energy. Talk to your vet about whether you should increase the amount of food you give to your pet to meet their needs.

As at any other time of the year, make sure that your pet has plenty of clean fresh water to drink. Winter air can lead to dry skin, and drinking plenty of water is one way to help with that. If you notice that your pet is getting a little dry and itchy, consider running a humidifier in the house to add more moisture to the air.

If you leave a water dish outside for your pet, keep an eye on it to make sure that it doesn’t freeze. You should also avoid using metal dishes which can get stuck to tongues.

Be Careful With Ice Melting Chemicals

Many commercial ice-melt products are toxic to pets. If you can’t keep your walkways ice-free by simply shoveling, find a product like SafePaw, that’s labeled as “pet friendly.”

Always wipe your pet’s paws after he comes inside, paying special attention to the areas between his toes. Salt can irritate his paw pads, or his mouth and stomach if he licks it off himself.

While you’re at it, it’s always a good idea to towel off his stomach and any other areas where he’s gotten damp. This will not only help to remove any lingering salt or chemicals, it will also help to prevent his skin from drying out.

Check Your Car

Cats are notorious for loving to curl up in warm cozy spaces. Especially during the winter, the heat from your car’s engine can be a big attraction. Sometimes, neighborhood cats or strays love to crawl up under the hood and snuggle up. As a precaution, bang on your hood before you get in your car. This will startle a concealed kitty out of his resting spot before he can get injured by a starting car.

Antifreeze has a sweet smell that appeals to many animals, but it can be lethal if it’s ingested. Check the area underneath your car and wipe up any spills. Make sure to store containers out of reach. You might also want to consider switching to an antifreeze that contains propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol. Although it is still toxic, it is slightly less dangerous.

Winter can be a paw-some time to get out and have some fun with your pet, or to just stay warm and toasty while you enjoy some snuggle time. No matter how you and your pet spend the winter, take extra care to stay safe and healthy!

Your cat’s health is a priority year round! This cat health checklist is great way to keep an eye on his health between vet visits. Click here to get your paws on a free copy!

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  • Great article 🙂

    I think that feeding our pets with an increased amount of food is a very good idea because their bodies need more calories in order to warm up. Anyway, I think that a conversation with your vet before increasing the food dosage is essential because it depends from your dog’s health and age how smart it is to increase the food amount it will eat.

    I am glad that you wrote about making sure that your dog doesn’t have any salt or dangerous chemicals they use to melt the snow or make it less slippery. This is a very good idea, I wouldn’t think of it myself. I always cleaned my dog’s paws because there were salt leftovers but I understand now that it takes a more thorough cleaning than that 🙂

    • Kristen Levine

      Good point about talking to your vet before you increase food in the winter. If you’re pet is not very active, regardless of the season, it might not be a good idea.

      Also, SafePaw is a great product to melt ice, without the harmful chemicals. It’s safe for kids and pets.

      • Yes, you are right, if the pet is not very active then increasing the food amount will not be a smart choice. Even if it gets that additional layer of fat during the winter season to keep itself warmer, it might oppose as a problem later in other seasons.

        Thank you for recommending SafePaw I will check it out right now 🙂