Important tips for keeping your pet safe in the winter

As pet lovers, we all worry about keeping our pets safe during winter. The harsh weather and plummeting temperatures present challenges for people and pets alike. Humans wrap themselves in layers of thermal protection. And while pets often have natural coats to handle foul weather, they can still be vulnerable in many ways. As empathetic people, it’s important that we recognize and act to keep our loving pets healthy and happy during the frigid season. Here are some ways of keeping your pet safe in winter.

Time Limits
When we look at the daily forecast, it shows us the temperature and “feels like” conditions. That lower number refers to the wind chill factor. Although a dog or cat may enjoy a thick winter coat, keep in mind that they too have exposed skin areas such as the nose, ears and mouth. By limiting the amount of time they spend outdoors to do their duty, you’ll keep them much safer from frostbite.

Bundle Up
It may surprise some pet lovers that their furry friend’s winter coat doesn’t assure them long-lasting protection from the elements. Sweaters and pet clothing is a must if your pet will spend any length of time outside during freezing temperatures.

One of the best ways of keeping your pet safe in the winter is to provide them with foot protection. While their paws appear to be padded, the soles of their feet can only endure a limited amount of exposure to extreme temperatures. Another problem that comes with combating snow and ice is the use of rock salts and harmful chemicals. A nice set of paw booties will provide an additional layer of protection from natural and man-made elements.

Food and Diet
Dogs and cats get far less exercise during the winter. They also take so many naps that they seem to be in a state of hibernation. This is a natural mechanism to conserve energy because exposure to cold weather drains their bodies faster. Talk to your veterinarian about ways to adjust winter diets. The goal is to supply them with enough nutrition and calories without them gaining unhealthy weight.

Storms and power outages pose two very real dangers in terms of keeping your pet safe in the winter. Indoor pets can be suddenly confronted with cold temperatures that they are unable to physically handle. Have a contingency plan to keep a space warm and well ventilated in the event you lose power. Heavy snows may also restrict travel and it’s important that you have a reserve supply of pet food on hand. Winter is not the best time to manage pet items on a week to week basis.

Frozen Dinners
Many pet owners get into the habit of putting food and water bowls outdoors. A freeze pop may be fun on a warm summer day, but there’s a reason you heat up frozen TV dinners. Find an indoor area that works for pet feedings during the cold months and don’t wait until the thermostat reaches freezing. If that isn’t logistically feasible for you, invest in heated food and water bowls. Also, be sure that your adorable pet enjoys a steady stream of clean water.

Checking and adjusting antifreeze levels in automobiles is a pre-winter event. Pets can be particularly susceptible to chemicals such as antifreeze. It’s imperative that you keep containers properly sealed and cleanup any spillage. An added protection can be changing to products that use propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. The former can be safer, but is still a toxin to animals and humans alike.

These are just a few ways to keep your pet safe in the winter. Be sure to monitor your pet’s demeanor and energy levels. If you see any significant or concerning change, call your veterinarian immediately.