Cold Weather Check Up: Tips for Cold Weather Pet Safety

Snowboarder with a dog

As the temperature in our area starts to dip, we’re all gearing up for the long winter months ahead. Although none of us really like the ice, snow, and chilly rain, these conditions can also pose some unique challenges and safety concerns for your pet.

Thankfully, with a few cold weather pet safety tips from your friends at Fairview Veterinary Hospital, you can keep your furry pal safe this season.

Get cozy — Dogs and cats do have fur, but even those with long hair are not equipped to be outdoors in the cold for long periods of time. Exposed skin on nose, paw pads, and ears are at risk for frostbite during extreme cold snaps. Keep your pets cozy and safe indoors most of the time, and provide a soft bed or warm spot for them in the house. If you have a puppy, kitten, or short-haired pet, consider providing them with a fleece, sweater, or coat to help maintain body heat.

Exercise — Winter weather can make most of us exercise less, and our pets are no exception. However, it’s still important to get them out for regular walks and/or playtime so they don’t gain unnecessary weight. Just keep your outings short – you may also want to protect your dog with a coat or fleece when outside. To prevent kitty weight gain, make sure playtime (indoors!) is part of your routine.

Prevent poisoning — One of the most significant risks of cold weather is that your pet will pick up toxic cold weather chemicals on their paws or body while outside. Antifreeze is extremely toxic to pets, and unfortunately, it seems to be rather attractive to them due to its sweet taste. Dogs are at particular risk for salt poisoning due to licking rock salt off their paws. To prevent a pet emergency, avoid puddles where chemicals can collect, and wipe paws, chest, and belly carefully to remove any residue before your pet can lick it off.

Car safety — Outdoor and feral cats are notorious for hiding out in the warm engine area of parked cars. Make sure you don’t have any stowaways before you drive off! Bang on the hood of your car, honk the horn, or raise the hood before you start your engine.

Collar and chip — Pets may become lost in the winter, as the snow and ice may mask scents that help them find their way home. Make sure your pet is protected with a well fitting collar and tags. An even better option for identification is a microchip, which can never be lost or damaged. Microchipping is your pet’s best chance for a happy reunion – just make sure the registration is kept up to date!

Be prepared — Winter brings its share of storms and power outages. Cold weather pet safety means being prepared with an emergency disaster kit. A few days of pet food, extra collar (and leash), medications, and an extra blanket for your pet is a good start.

Together, we can ensure a safe winter for your pet. If you have additional questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re happy to discuss additional tips for cold weather pet safety.