Wintertime means bundling up, especially when snow and ice are in the forecast. We take pains to make sure our homes are properly winterized, that our fridges and pantries are well-stocked, and that the perfect Netflix marathon is in order, but what shouldn’t be overlooked is making sure that our pets are prepared for cold weather too. It’s not as easy for our four-legged friends to let us know when they are cold, suffering from frostbite, or experiencing hurt paws from salt on the sidewalks and roads; which is why it’s important to be proactive and consider a few tips for protecting your pets from the cold weather:

  1. First and foremost, bring your pets inside! When the temperatures are as cold as they have been lately, pets should NOT be left outside for long periods of time. Remember, the wind chill makes it even colder outside, and just because your cat or dog has a thick coat doesn’t mean that their body temperature won’t be affected by freezing temperatures. What’s more, frostbite on their ears, tail, and feet are a very real threat. Finally, with snow, ice and high winds headed our way, put yourself in your pets shoes…what YOU would to be outside for extended periods of time? Neither do they.
  2. It’s natural for animals (and us!) to want to hibernate in the cold months, which includes eating extra food and putting on a few extra pounds. Many vets recommend feeding your pets a little extra in the winter to combat the extra energy they are exerting by trying to keep warm. A little added weight can help insulate them as well.
  3. We’re all grateful when the sidewalks and roads are salted to help us from slipping, but did you know that many of the types of salt that are used actually burn paw pads? Petroleum jelly, paw pads, and booties are all excellent resources for protecting your dogs feet. Washing and drying their feet after a walk can also help to remove any ice, salt, or chemicals.
  4. And since we are avoiding chemicals…this time of year it’s common for antifreeze and other coolants to be left unattended. Unfortunately, such chemicals are lethal for dogs and cats. Make sure ALL spills are cleaned up and if possible, use products that contain propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol.
  5. We all suffer from dry skin this time of year – and that includes our pets! Going from the cold into the dry heat can cause dry skin and irritation, which is why its best to bathe your pets as little as possible during cold spells. Baths can remove the essential oils that keep skin hydrated. Staying hydrated is also key, by keeping plenty of water out for your cats and dogs you can help their skin stay less dry.
  6. Just as we love to bundle up on the couch with some cozy blankets on a snow day, your pet does too! Make sure there is a warm bed, pile of blankets, or pillow for them to enjoy in a warm, dry space.
  7. We all know not to leave our pets in the car when it is hot out (well, we SHOULD all know), but the same also applies to cold weather. Once the heat is turned off in your car, temperatures drop rapidly, so avoid leaving your pet in your car unattended.

We hope everyone stays warm and safe during the cold weather and winter storms – including your pets!