Dog in the winter snow
Dog in the winter snow

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Get Ready for Winter: How to Keep Your Pets Safe

Just like you have to bundle up and take some extra precautions to stay safe and warm in the wintertime, it’s important that you give your pets that kind of attention too.

Here’s how to keep your pets safe this winter:

 

Know What Outdoor Elements Are Safe for Your Pet

A lot of dogs love being out in the snow, but some are better built to handle it than others. If you have a large dog with short fur and no body fat, like a greyhound, or a small dog with short, thin fur, like a Chihuahua, it’s best to limit their time outside to just what it takes for them to do their business. Smaller dogs can benefit from wearing little dog sweaters or coats and booties while they’re outdoors.

Meanwhile, dogs with dense coats of thick, long fur, like Great Pyrenees and Saint Bernards, are in heaven when the temperatures drop and the snow flies. If you have doubts about what your pet can stand, talk to your veterinarian.

If you have a cat, it’s best to keep it inside during the winter months. A good rule of thumb is that if it’s too cold outside for you, it’s too cold for your pet. And needless to say, if your pet is a snake or turtle or a tropical bird, keep them inside!

 

Keep Your Pet on a Leash

Even if you have a dog who’s known for staying where they’re supposed to be in your yard or close to you on a walk, it’s smart to leash them during the winter. That’s because snow can affect a dog’s sense of smell as it covers familiar scents that would typically guide them home. Your dog could even become disoriented during a snowfall, as it’s harder for them to see their surroundings. The outdoors are also more dangerous for pets in the winter weather because drivers may not be able to see them around snowbanks or stop quickly when they run into the road.

 

Keep Your Pets Dry and Warm

When your dog comes in from the cold and wet outside, immediately dry off their paws and belly with a towel. This helps get rid of any ice, salt, de-icer and other chemicals that could harm them if they lick their paws or fur.  Check for injuries like cracked or bleeding paw pads too. As an extra precaution, you may want to purchase a balm to put on your pup’s paw pads before and after they are outside to protect them. You might even consider warming your cat or dog up a little extra with a heated mat or bed they can cozy up on! If you have rabbits, you may need to bring them inside for the season, even if they typically stay outdoors.

 

Look Out for Spills

Cats and dogs love the sweet taste of antifreeze — which is used more often in the winter — but it is poisonous to them. It can kill them or make them extremely ill. Keep a close eye out for any antifreeze spills, clean them up well and keep the bottle in a cabinet where animals can’t get it.

 

Watch Their Food and Water Intake

Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors in the winter require more calories to help them have the energy to fight the cold. However, pets who are inside more may burn fewer calories than normal. It’s a good idea to feed your pet the same amount as usual and watch their weight. Adjust their intake based on whether they seem to need more or fewer calories. Avoid the temptation to overdo the treats (human or pet food) around the holidays too! A little bit of ham or turkey is a lot different for your pet’s body than yours. And be sure to keep your pet’s water from freezing.

 

Keep Your Pet’s Skin Healthy

You probably use more moisturizer during the winter months, and it turns out, your pets are at risk for dry skin too. To help them avoid dry, itchy, flaky skin:

  • Don’t bathe them too often. This can remove oils their body needs.
  • Get a veterinarian’s recommendation for a soothing moisturizer and/or shampoo when you do bathe your pet
  • Don’t shave their fur during the winter. Their skin can be come irritated by de-icer and other chemicals outside as well as the cold, dry weather. Plus, their fur keeps them warm!
  • Keep your home humidified. This helps you and your pet avoid itchy, flaky winter skin.

If you love animals and want to learn more about how to keep them healthy and safe all year long, a career as a veterinary assistant might be a great fit for you. Contact Charter College today to find out about how you can get training for a career that allows you to work with animals every day.