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.
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.
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.
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.
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. If you and your pet need help adjusting to protective footwear, consider contacting one of our certified trainers.
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.
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.
Take a break from regular bath time during the cold spells. Washing too often can remove essential oils that are so good for your dog’s skin. Without it, they can develop dry, flaky skin. For when bath time is an absolute necessity, try finding a special moisturizing shampoo that will retain your pet’s essential oils.
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.
Outdoor cats can’t protect themselves from the extreme cold. If bringing them inside is not an option, consider building them a cat shelter where they can stay safe and dry. You can learn how to build one here.
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