Wildlife Wednesdays: Cold Safety Tips for your Pets | weatherology°
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By: Meteorologist Megan Mulford
Updated: Feb 7th 2022

Wildlife Wednesdays: Cold Safety Tips for your Pets

The winter season is here, and it's not just us humans that need to stay warm and safe during the winter season, so do our pets. Here are some safety tips to keep your pets warm and safe:

1. Know your dog's limits!

Some dogs can handle cold better than other dogs. Short-coated, thin, elderly, and puppies get cold more quickly and cannot be outside for as long, so make sure you adjust the amount of time they stay outside. If your dog loves to go outdoors and even play in the snow, make sure to get them a sweater or a coat to keep them warm. Hypothermia and frostbite are major risks for dogs in the winter. Remember, if it is too cold for you, it is too cold for your pets!

2. Always check the hood of cars.

Outdoor cats or stray cats often sleep in the wheel wells of cars during the winter months to keep warm. If you start your car with a cat sleeping on one of the tires, they can be severely hurt or killed. To prevent injuries to cats, bang loudly on your hood or honking the horn before you start your car. Give yourself a little time for them to escape before starting your car. 

3. Wipe their paws!

During winter walks, dogs paws can pick up all sorts of toxic chemicals such as salt, antifreeze, and de-icer. After their walks, wipe their paws off to prevent them from licking the chemicals off and becoming sick. Also, when wiping off your dog's paws, check for signs of injury such as cracked or bleeding paws. Booties for your dog's feet are helpful to get as well. Pet-friendly de-icer is also a recommended purchase. 

4. Keep your dog leashed and avoid ice!

More pets become lost in the winter time because snowfall can disguise scents recognizable to dogs that would normally help them find their way home. To prevent pets from becoming lost, always keep your dogs leashed when walking. Also, for added safety, make sure they wear collars and/or are microchipped with up-to-date contact information. Finally, when walking your dog, be sure to avoid frozen lakes and ponds where you and your dog could be seriously injured or even killed if the ice breaks. 

5. Avoid Spills.

Antifreeze attracts dogs and cats because of its sweet taste. Antifreeze is VERY poisonous to animals and can cause serious illness or death when consumed. Be sure to clean up any antifreeze that spills in your garage or on your driveway. Make sure the bottle is kept somewhere where your pets will not reach it. 

6. Give them shelter!

If you have pets that live primarily outdoors, bring them inside during sub-zero temperatures. Otherwise, provide them with a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough for them to sit and lay down comfortably. However, you also want it to be small enough to conserve body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings, or straw and warm blankets. Make sure the shelter is facing away from the wind and cover the doorway with waterproof burlap or plastic. Pets who stay outdoors need more food to replace energy lost from trying to stay warm. Use plastic food and water dishes instead of metal, because, if it's cold enough, their tongues will stick to metal. 

*In addition, do not leave animals alone in vehicles that are turned off. Cars and trucks can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold, and therefore, causing your animal to freeze to death.