Cold Weather Pet Checklist

Dec 05, 2022

Winter weather can be hard on all of us, especially pets who rely on us for their health and well-being. Cold temperatures can worsen existing medical conditions and pose a new set of dangers for pets that are rarely a concern during the remainder of the year.
See our 10 winter-weather tips for keeping your pets happy, healthy, and safe until spring:
  1. Check under your car
Underneath your warm car is an enticing place for pets to take a nap. Before leaving the house, inspect all sides of your vehicle to make sure there are no animals in the path of your tires. Cats and small wildlife are known for climbing under the hood to sleep near the warm engine. Bang on your vehicle’s hood to scare them away before starting your engine.
  1. Bathe as little as possible
Even if you bathe your pet indoors, washing too often can remove essential oils from their skin and increase their chances of developing dry, flaky skin. If you must bathe your pet, use a moisturizing shampoo. Your vet can likely give you recommendations.
  1. Use paw protectants
Keep your dog’s paws protected from harmful salt and chemical agents by massaging petroleum jelly into their paw pads before going outside. Booties provide even more coverage and will ensure that gravel, salt, ice, and other irritants don’t get stuck in their pads.
  1. Hide the antifreeze
Antifreeze is a lethal poison to pets. Thoroughly clean any spills from your vehicle and store the container in a high place that is inaccessible by pets. Consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol for a pet-friendly alternative. Other chemicals such as ice melts are also dangerous when ingested, so be mindful of where you store them.
  1. Keep them dry
After each walk, wash and dry your dog’s feet and stomach to remove ice, salt, and other chemicals. Also, check for cracks in their paw pads or redness between their toes. If you are going on a long walk after the roads have been salted, consider bringing a rag with you to occasionally clean off irritated paws.
  1. Balance their diet
Animals burn extra energy in the winter to stay warm. Feeding them a bit extra can provide much needed calories and making sure they stay hydrated will help keep their skin from drying out.
  1. Keep them leashed
When there is snow on the ground, pets can lose their scent and become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than any other season, so keep them on a leash and attach an identification tag on their collar just in case.
  1. Never shave your pet
An animal’s fur is its primary source of insulation. Therefore, pets with naturally long fur should only be trimmed in the winter if you deem it necessary to minimize clinging snow and ice balls. You should, however, keep the long fur between their toes trimmed down to prevent ice injuries. If your pet is short-haired, consider buying a blanket/jacket to use when going on walks.
  1. Check the temperature
If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pet. Before leaving them outside all night, check the temperature. Remember, though, that every animal has a different cold tolerance depending on their age, weight, breed, fur length, health, etc. If you are unsure whether it’s too cold or not, bring them inside to be safe.
  1. Provide shelter
If your pet must stay outside, ensure they have access to a dry, draft-free shelter. Shelters should be large enough for pets to sit and lie down in, but small enough to retain their body heat. Bed the inside with cedar shavings or straw, and make sure the entrance is not facing north.
Your local Co-op is passionate about pets. Stop by for the supplies you need to make sure your pets are treated like family this winter!
For more content like this, check out the latest issue of The Cooperator.

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