11 Winter Safety Tips

| November 28, 2023

Your pet’s sensitivity to the cold depends on everything from their breed to their coat, to their general health. It also comes down to temperament. Many pets love the cold weather, while others are only interested in quick bathroom breaks. 

The best way to gauge your pet’s comfort in the cold is to spend time with them outside. Look for signs of discomfort, such as shivering, running towards and standing by the door, wanting to be held, or losing interest in things they normally get excited about outside. 

Here are some further tips to help keep your pet safe and sound during the cold months ahead. 

Know the Signs of Hypothermia and Frostbite

Pets are susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite just like humans. Hypothermia symptoms may include shivering, whining, acting lethargic or weak, decreased heart rate, and fur and skin that are cold to the touch.  

Frostbite is less noticeable and may take several days before the symptoms appear in the form of ice on the body, shivering, blisters of skin ulcers, your pet’s skin is cold to the touch, stiffness or clumsiness, and areas of blackened or dead skin.  Frostbite is most likely to occur on the paw pads, tails, and ears. If you think your pet could be showing signs of hypothermia or frostbite, contact your veterinarian immediately. 

Make Paw Cleaning a Habit

Gently wash and wipe down your pet’s paws with a towel after their walk. This will remove irritants such as snow and ice, and any harmful chemicals, such as ice salt from between their paw pads. Check for chapped paws and itchy, flaking skin as well. 

To clean your pet’s paws, soak a hand towel or cloth in warm (not hot) water, wring it out so it’s damp, and use it to gently wipe down their paws. This will melt away snow and ice and remove any salt buildup. Once you’re finished, dry off their paw with another towel. 

Don’t Leave Them in the Car

Never leave your pet in the car during extreme cold weather. A vehicle can act like a freezer, trapping in cold air which can quickly endanger your pet. If you have to travel with your pet, make sure the trips are short, and don’t leave them unattended in the car. 

Make Meal Time Fun

Combat the winter blues by introducing puzzle feeders and brain games into your pet’s routine. These interactive activities not only provide mental stimulation but also keep your pets physically active, preventing the winter slump. Challenge their minds, encourage problem-solving, and make mealtime an exciting adventure. Whether it’s a treat-dispensing puzzle ball for dogs or a food puzzle for cats, these games provide hours of entertainment, alleviating boredom and ensuring a happy, healthy pet all season long.

Consider Paw Protectors

There is a wide range of paw protectors on the market designed to protect your dog’s paws from the cold and salt. The most effective are balloon-type booties – these stay on better and do not seem to bother dogs too much. It is important to note all pets are different. Some do not mind protective footwear, while others don’t even want their paws touched. 

Enroll in a Training Class

Embrace the winter months with a warm-hearted activity that not only keeps your pet active but strengthens the unbreakable bond between you and your furry companion. Enroll in a dog or cat training class. Toronto Humane Society offers virtual and in-person classes where expert trainers guide you through engaging sessions designed to stimulate your pet’s mind and body. Combat the cold weather blues by turning your indoor time into a rewarding experience for both you and your pet. These courses are not just about obedience; they’re about building a lifelong connection. Enroll today and turn winter into a season of growth and learning.

Humidify Your Home

Exposure to the season’s dry, cold air can cause chapped paws and itchy, flaking skin. Try to keep your home humid as best you can.  

Collar and Microchip Your Pets

Many pets become lost in the winter because snow and ice can hide recognizable scents that might normally help pets find their way back home. Make sure your pet has a well-fitting collar with up-to-date identification and contact information. A microchip is a more permanent means of identification. You can book your microchip appointment at Toronto Humane Society’s Public Veterinary Services clinic.  

Save Shorter Haircuts for The Summer

A little extra hair will provide your pet with that much needed warmth. For the long-haired dogs, a quick trim will help with the clinging snow chunks and salt crystals. For those less shaggy short-haired pups, a nice coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck will help them stay snug on those chilly walks. 

Skip Bath Time

Take a break from regular bath time during the cold spells. Washing too often can remove  essential oils that are so good for your pet’s skin. Without it, they can develop dry, flaky skin. When bath time is an absolute necessity, source moisturizing shampoo that will retain your pet’s essential oils. 

Watch out for Antifreeze

The sweet taste of antifreeze is attractive to cats and dogs, but it can cause sickness or be fatal if ingested. Make sure to keep antifreeze containers far out of reach from your pets and clean up spills immediately. You could also consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Additionally, cold weather chemicals like ice melts can be dangerous when ingested, so always be mindful and keep chemicals up and out of paws’ reach.