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10 Tips To Keep Your Pet Safe in Winter [+ Signs of Hypothermia in Pets]

Last Updated on January 11, 2024 by Dogs Vets

10 Tips To Keep Your Pet Safe in winter 

Winter’s icy grip can be tough on our furry friends, but with a little extra care, you can keep your pet safe and sound all season long.

However, by taking proactive steps and providing them with the care they need, you can guarantee your pet’s safety and well-being throughout the entire winter season

Here are 10 ways to ensure your pet’s winter wellness:

1. Cozy Comforts:

  • Bring them inside: Unless your pet has a specially designed shelter and access to unfrozen water, bring them indoors during harsh weather. Garages or sheds are not a substitute for warm living spaces.

    Image of dog sleeping on a cozy pet bed inside a house
    Cozy Pet Bed
  • Warm bedding: Provide extra blankets, a heated bed, or a snuggly igloo-style pet bed to keep your pet warm and comfy.

2. Pawsome Protection:

  • Shield their paws: Salt and chemicals used to melt ice can irritate and damage paw pads. Apply paw balm before walks, or consider using booties for added protection.

    Image of paw balm being applied to a dog's paw
    paw balm being applied to a dog’s paw
  • Wipe after walks: After being outside, gently wipe your pet’s paws with a damp towel to remove any irritants.

3. Coat Care:

  • Brush regularly: Brushing your pet’s coat removes loose fur and helps distribute natural oils, keeping their coat healthy and insulating.

    Image of person brushing a dog's fur
    person brushing a dog’s fur
  • Bathing with care: Limit baths during winter to avoid drying out their skin. Use a moisturizing shampoo if you must bathe them.

4. Antifreeze Alert:

  • Keep it out of reach: Antifreeze is deadly to pets, even in small amounts. Store it securely and wipe up any spills immediately.

5. Know Your Limits:

  • Shorten walks: Adjust the length and intensity of outdoor walks based on the weather and your pet’s tolerance for cold.

  • Watch for signs of hypothermia: Shivering, whining, and lethargy can be signs of hypothermia. If you notice these signs, get your pet inside immediately and warm them up gradually.

6. Winter Wonderland Woes:

  • Beware of frozen ponds: Keep your pet away from frozen ponds and lakes, as the ice can be thin and break.

  • Toxic treats: Holly, mistletoe, and poinsettias are poisonous to pets, so keep them out of reach during the holidays.

7. Keep them Hydrated:

  • Ensure fresh water: Make sure your pet has access to fresh, unfrozen water at all times. Consider using a heated water bowl to prevent freezing.

8. Playful Pastimes:

  • Indoor exercise: Provide your pet with opportunities to exercise and play indoors, especially on days when going outside isn’t an option. Puzzle toys, indoor fetch, and training sessions are all great ways to keep them active.

9. Vet’s Visit:

  • Schedule a checkup: Schedule a winter checkup with your veterinarian to ensure your pet is healthy and up-to-date on vaccinations.

10. A Helping Paw:

Winter poses extra challenges for lost pets. The biting cold, harsh winds, and limited food sources make it all the more difficult for them to survive on their own. Here’s how you can help lost pets during this vulnerable season:

  • Help lost pets: During winter, lost pets are more vulnerable to the cold. Keep your pet microchipped and check for lost pet alerts in your area.
  • Microchipping: This is the single most effective way to ensure a lost pet finds its way back home. A microchip is a tiny electronic device implanted under your pet’s skin that stores their unique identification information. If your pet is found and scanned by a shelter or vet, the microchip will instantly reveal their name, contact details, and even medical history, greatly increasing their chances of being reunited with you.
  • Collar and ID Tags: While not as foolproof as microchipping, a well-fitting collar with up-to-date identification tags is still crucial. Ensure the tags include your pet’s name, your phone number, and any relevant medical information. Reflective collars and tags are especially helpful for nighttime visibility.
  • Lost Pet Alerts: Actively check for lost pet alerts in your area. Many local shelters, animal welfare organizations, and community Facebook groups maintain dedicated platforms for lost and found pets. Regularly scanning these platforms can help you reunite lost pets with their worried families.

Signs of Hypothermia in Pets

Extra Tips

Beat Cabin Fever: Combat cabin fever by providing indoor toys, playtime, and affection to keep your pet mentally stimulated and content during the winter months.

Manage Outdoor Time: During extreme cold spells, it’s advisable to reduce outdoor activities and walks to minimize exposure to freezing temperatures. Be cautious of icy sidewalks and roads.

Monitor for Frostbite and Hypothermia: Keep an eye out for signs of frostbite and hypothermia in your pets, such as shivering, lethargy, and cold extremities. Quick action and veterinary care are crucial.

Top 5 Questions about Pet Safety in Winter:

1. How much colder is it for my pet outside than it is for me?

While we feel the cold, our furry friends experience it differently. Smaller pets, short-haired breeds, and dogs with thin coats are especially vulnerable to the cold. A good rule of thumb is that if you feel uncomfortable outside, your pet likely does too. Limit outdoor time in very cold weather and bring them inside when they start shivering.

2. Do I need to change my pet’s diet in winter?

Some pets may need slightly more food in winter to maintain their body temperature. However, avoid overfeeding, as this can lead to weight gain. Consult your veterinarian if you’re unsure about how much to feed your pet during the colder months.

3. What are the signs of hypothermia in pets?

Shivering, lethargy, weakness, loss of appetite, and whining are all warning signs of hypothermia. If you suspect your pet is suffering from hypothermia, immediately bring them inside to a warm environment and contact your veterinarian.

4. What can I do to protect my pet’s paws from the salt and chemicals used on winter roads?

Apply paw balm before walks and thoroughly wipe their paws with a damp towel upon returning home. Consider using booties for extra protection, especially on long walks.

5. What should I do if my pet eats antifreeze?

Antifreeze is highly toxic to pets, so immediate action is crucial. Contact your veterinarian or animal poison control center immediately. Do not induce vomiting and avoid giving your pet anything to drink or eat.

By understanding these common questions and taking proactive steps, you can keep your pet safe and sound throughout the winter. Remember, a little extra care and attention can make a big difference in their well-being during the colder months.

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