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10 Cold Weather Safety Tips for Pets

1. Know your dog’s limits

  • Certain dogs are more sensitive to the cold than others. It is important to adjust the length of time that short-coated, thin, elderly, and very young dogs are outside because they get cold more quickly. A great option for dogs who enjoy being outside is to purchase a sweater or coat for them to stay warm. Hypothermia and frostbite cause major risks to dogs – a great rule of thumb to follow is if it’s too cold for you, then it’s most likely too cold for your dog!

  • Here are some coat & sweater options found on Amazon:

  • This coat is waterproof & windproof and is reversible.

  • Sizing & pricing – Extra Small ($9.99), Small ($13.99), Medium ($14.99), Large ($15.99), X-Large ($19.99), XX-Large ($20.99), and XXX-Large ($22.99)

  • Here is a fleece hoodie that is windproof. This is a great option for those with big dogs as it comes in a variety of sizes.

  • Pricing & sizing – Small ($16.99), Medium ($17.99), Large ($18.99), X-Large ($20.99), XX-Large ($22.99) 4X-Large ($24.99), and 5X-Large ($26.99)

2. Check under car hoods

  • In order to keep warm, it is extremely common for cats to sleep in the wheel wells of cars. If a cat is sleeping on your tire and you start your car, they can be severely injured or even killed by moving engine parts. In order to prevent this, before starting your car, bang on your hood or honk the horn. This will cause the cat to wake up and give it an opportunity to escape before the car starts.

3. Wipe their paws

  • Salt, antifreeze, and de-icers are used frequently in the winter months and your dog’s paws can pick up these toxic chemicals during walks. When you return home from a walk, make sure to wipe their paws to prevent them from licking it off and becoming ill. If you want to be extra cautious, purchase de-icers that are pet safe. One final point is to check for signs of injury, like cracked or bleeding paws.

4. Keep them on a leash

  • Snowfall is known to disguise recognizable scents. This causes more pets to become lost in winter than any other season because they cannot sniff out scents that would normally help them find their way home. Make sure to always have your dog leashed on walks to help prevent them from becoming lost. In case you would happen to become separated from your pet, it’s important to have up-to-date contact information on their collar and to be microchipped.

5. Stay away from the ice

  • Avoid frozen lakes and ponds when walking your dog. They could become seriously injured or worse yet, even killed, if the ice breaks.

6. Leave them at home

  • Just as leaving your pet in a hot car during summer is extremely dangerous, leaving them in a cold car poses a threat as well. Only take your pets in the car if it is necessary and be sure to never leave them unattended.

7. Wear visible clothing

  • Since it gets dark out much earlier due to Daylight Savings Time, it is important to wear reflective gear while walking your dog. You should also keep your dog on a tight leash while walking on the street.

  • Amazon offers this 5FT reflective leash at a very affordable price ($6.99). It also has a 5-star review!

8. Give them shelter

  • If your pets live primarily outside, you should at least bring them indoors during sub-zero temperatures. For the rest of winter, provide them with a shelter that is dry and draft-free. They should have a space large enough to sit and lay down comfortably, but still small enough to conserve body heat. It’s also important to note that pets who spend a lot of time outside during the winter need more food to replace energy lost from trying to stay warm. When the temperature drops low enough, your pets’ tongue can become stuck to metal, so be sure to use plastic food and water dishes.

9. Avoid spilling liquids

  • Cats and dogs are attracted to antifreeze because it is very sweet to taste, but it is extremely poisonous to them; if ingested, it can cause serious illness or even death. If you spill any antifreeze, make sure to clean it up and store the bottle in a place your pets cannot access.

10. Be prepared

  • Having an emergency plan during the winter in case of a power outage is not only important for yourself, but for your pet as well. Your emergency kit should include enough food, water, and medication to last your pets at least 5 days. You’ll probably end up never needing it, but hey, you’ll be thankful you planned ahead if an emergency ever did occur!

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