Depending on the breed, your pet may love or hate winter. Either way, you’ll want to take note of these top five winter safety tips for pets.
1. Animals can get frostbite – particularly if they spend long periods of time out of doors, and as they age. If your pet begins to shiver, or shows early signs of frostbite such as redness on the ears, tail or paws, or whitish patches in more advanced cases, bring them inside immediately. Purchase a winter coat, booties, and any other accessories that will help keep your pet warm and comfortable during a walk on a cold winter day.
2. Thin ice is a potential hazard. It only takes a moment for a pet to break through and be pulled under the ice by a fast-flowing stream, so be very careful around ponds, rivers and lakes in the winter. If the animal falls in, go for help immediately; do not be tempted to risk your own life to save your pet.
3. Never leave a pet unattended in a vehicle for an extended period of time. If you’ve ever run out in the morning to warm up your car and sat down on a frozen driver’s seat, you’ll know that in the wintertime, vehicles quickly turn into a freezer. A car actually holds the cold much like a refrigerator and your pet could potentially freeze to death.
4. Avoid road salt. Road salt is sodium chloride mixed with other chemical additives and used to keep sidewalks and roads from becoming too slippery. Although the mixture is effective, it’s tough on our pets’ paws, dangerous if ingested, not to mention damaging to the environment. Avoid using any de-icing agent – instead choose non-clumping kitty litter or sand as a pet-friendly and environmentally-friendly alternative. Also, to protect your pet’s paws, get them accustomed to wearing winter booties.
5. Dress your pet according to weather, breed and age. The older we get – humans and animals – the more sensitive we are to the cold. If you own a medium to large Husky-type dog or any other furry, hardy breed, then you have a happy winter-walking companion. For smaller breeds that can’t make it through deep snow and generally drown in slush, winter walks become a bit more of a challenge. You’ll need to invest in a warm winter coat for short hair breeds like Chihuahuas, pugs, and boxers, as well as winter booties to keep their paws warm and dry.
Finding the right winter boots for your dog
It may be tricky to find the correct size of winter booties, or even ones that will stay on. Pet stores usually have a good return policy on these items. Here’s a tip for small dogs: use felt booties from the dollar store and pick up a package of balloons there, too. Cut the necks off the balloons and use the bulbous ends as galoshes over the felt booties. This works very well with smaller breeds and protects their paws from the road salt.
One thing you can be sure about with small, short-hair breeds in winter – they will never run away. They are creatures of warmth, and can usually be found near the furnace vent, fireplace or burrowed under their favorite blankie – not a bad idea, come to think of it!