Winter isn’t an easy season for animals, especially the ones who lack a warm and cozy home. Some pet owners fail to bring their dogs and cats inside after when it snows, perhaps operating under the mistaken belief our furry friends can’t feel the cold. Others absentmindedly leave their dogs in freezing vehicles, which can quickly transform into dangerous “refrigerators on wheels.”
The good news is that its possible for dogs and cats to enjoy winter as much as you do — with a little preparation. Read on for essential winter safety tips to help keep your dogs, cats, and even the neighborhood strays, safe and warm until spring arrives.
1. Temperature Counts
Dogs and cats have fur coats, but that doesn’t mean they don’t get cold. When the temperature falls to around 35°F, it’s time to consider bringing your pet indoors. Seniors pets, puppies, dogs with thin fur, and small dog breeds are also more sensitive to falling temperatures. Here’s a handy chart to help you decide if it’s too cold for your pets to be outside.
2. Bundle Up
Would you go outside without a coat or boots in the middle of winter? Good. Now don’t make your dog do it, either. Not only can a winter coat and dog boots keep your pup warm, boots can also help protect his paws from the irritating chemical de-icing agents strewn across city sidewalks and streets on snowy days. Be warned that some dogs need convincing to wear boots for the first time. Read this story if you need help training your dog to wear winter boots.
3. Take Care In The Car
Most people know leaving dogs alone in hot cars can be deadly, but your vehicle poses just as much risk in winter months. During cold weather, your car is a “refrigerator on wheels,” leaving your dog at risk of hypothermia, suffocation, or even freezing to death.
4. Check the Hood
Cars also present dangerous winter hazards for cats, who innocently cuddle under the car’s hood or on top of a tire to stay warm. Make sure to check under the hood for sleeping cats before you start the engine.
5. Avoid Anti-Freeze
It’s also important to keep cars and garages free of any hazardous wintertime chemicals, like anti-freeze, which is deadly for both cats and dogs. According to the ASPCA, pet owners should immediately clean up any spills of dangerous chemicals that occur inside their car or garage. Consider buying car products containing the less toxic propylene glycol.
6.Bring the Leash
It may be tempting to let your dog run free in the snow, but your should always keep your dog on a leash when it’s snowing outside. This is because dogs and cats run a higher risk of getting lost in winter white-out conditions, when snowfall obscures the scented trails they usually follow back home. “Prevent your pets from becoming lost by keeping dogs leashed on walks and, just in case you are separated from your pets, make sure their collars have up-to-date contact information and they are microchipped,” the Great Plains SPCA explains. Dressing your pet in reflective collars and bright winter coats — in addition to keeping them warm — also makes lost pets easier to spot in snowy weather.
7. Protect Those Paws
It’s important to dress your pets for cold weather, but it’s equally essential to keep your pup dry. Use a towel or hair dryer to dry Fido’s fur and paws after snowy walks, taking special care to remove ice balls from your dog’s fur. The Animal Rescue Site Store includes protective paw wax that helps keep painful ice balls from forming, as well as a selection of drying towels and comfy heating pads.
drying mats and towels – store links
Dogs and cats should be regularly watered and fed in winter months, when we all need extra calories to help us generate body heat and warmth. We’re pretty sure your dog won’t say no to extra helpings, but make sure your pets are also drinking lots of water during these winter months. This will keep their skin healthy and hydrated in the dry winter air.
9. Share The Love
This list makes it easy to care for your pets in cold weather, but there are plenty of homeless animals that could use your help, too. Consider helping the community cats in your neighborhood stay well-fed and warm by building an outdoor shelter or a food/water station stocked with non-frozen foods and fresh water. Check out our 7 Simple Steps To Save Stray Animals’ Lives This Winter for more life-saving ideas.