- Know what temperature your dog can handle
Number one on our list of winter safety tips for pets is, know what temperature your dog can handle. Some dogs were born for the snow! Others prefer to bask in the sun and vacation in Florida! Siberian Huskies, Samoyeds, and Great Pyrenees have what it takes in their DNA to withstand extreme temperatures and long snowy hikes. Their double coat protects them from the elements. Be careful when taking Chico the Chihuahua and other small toy breeds outside during a winter wonderland. Their small stature and short hair can cause a leisurely winter stroll into a serious emergency. Winter coats and snow shoes to protect tiny paws are essential when the thermometer drops and snow begins to fall.
- Watch out for ice!
Number two on our list of winter safety tips for pets is, watch out for ice! Those who live in an area with cold climates know how dangerous ice on the sidewalk can be. Use caution when taking a stroll down the street for both you and your dog’s safety. No one wants a trip to the ER for a broken leg or a bump on the head. Frozen ponds are another hazard to watch out for on the chilly afternoon walk, so always keep your dog on a leash! Snow can often cover a pond, so it is always best to stick to the trail and the shoveled walkways. Even if a pond looks to be frozen solid, don’t risk it. The ice may not be able to bear the weight of you and your dog. If your dog falls through the ice do not go into the water or attempt to save it on your own. Call 911, and wait for help. If you fall through the ice into a frozen pond follow this video from Jeff Rossen on The Today Show on how to survive.
- Chemical are everywhere!
Number three on our list of winter safety tips for pets is, chemicals are everywhere! Antifreeze and other chemicals that melt ice can be toxic and even fatal to your pets. After a walk, be sure to always remove chunks and ice and snow from your dog and wipe their paws. This will prevent the chemicals from being ingested when the dog licks their paws and prevents the chemical from irritating the paw pads and skin. Be sure to keep antifreeze containers closed securely and to wipe up any spills. Ethylene glycol, the main active ingredient in antifreeze, is lethal to pets. Although since 2012 manufacturers of antifreeze now add a bitter agent to the mixture, it is best to take precaution.
- Give them shelter!
Number four on our list of winter safety tips for pets is, give them shelter! If you have an outdoor cat or dog, be sure to provide them with a safe and warm place during the winter months. Dogs need a dog house that is big enough for them to lay down but t also stand up and turn around. However, the shelter should also be small enough so that the dog’s body heat can keep the surrounding area inside warm. The opening into the dog house should have a heavy plastic or waterproof material covering the opening and the shelter itself should be free from drafts. Keep the doghouse elevated off the ground and be sure to line the bottom with straw or wood shavings to help keep your pooch warm. Outdoor & feral cats also need a safe, warm, dry place to sleep. You can find a step by step tutorial to make a DIY cat shelter here.
- Listen to the weather person!
Number five on our list of winter safety tips for pets is, listen to the weather person! They went to school. They know what they are talking about. If your local weather station says to hunker down and stay inside, then maybe you and your pets should do just that! Be prepared. Buy extra food. Stock up on your pet’s medications. Have a plan ready in case you are snowed in and cannot get your dog outside. Bring outdoor pets inside if you are not able to get out to care for them during the storm. If you are able to safely go outside during a blizzard, be safe and be prepared with the appropriate clothing and foot coverings for your dog.
Written by Julie Gajewski. Julie has been pet sitting and working in the veterinary industry as both a technician and hospital administrator since 1997. She is a pet business consultant and a guest blog writer for pet sitters across the world. She lives in Florida with her husband and furry children, 2 Pugs and 4 cats.