The general rule of thumb when it comes to the effects of cold weather on pets is: if you’re cold, they’re cold. However, a lot goes into determining what measures you should take to protect your pets from wintry conditions, such as breed, weight, and coat thickness.
Here are some tips for protecting your cats and dogs from winter weather so you can be sure they’re healthy and comfortable, no matter how cold it gets outside.
Bring Your Pets Inside
Even if your pets are year-round outdoor beasts, when the temperature drops below freezing you don’t want to risk them getting sick from exposure. Even cold-weather breeds like Huskies and Bernese Mountain Dogs can become sick from exposure. Just because they have a fur coat, doesn’t mean they’re immune to the cold, so if it’s going to be freezing for an extended amount of time, bring your pets inside.
During winter, your pet’s natural coat may not be enough to keep them warm, so it’s a good idea to get them a winter coat as well. Coats are particularly helpful for dogs with short hair, and for small breeds whose bellies are closer to the freezing ground. You may also want to get them some booties to protect their feet from snow and ice. It will take a few minutes for your dog to get used to walking in boots (and it will probably be hilarious), but they’ll appreciate the added warmth.
Keep Walks Short
When you take your dog (or even cat!) out for a walk, consider bringing them back in sooner than you would in summer. As much as they love being outside, snow and ice can be damaging to their paws if they’re out in it for too long. If you see signs of cracking or bleeding on your pets paw pads, cut the walk short and consult your vet for how best to treat their paws.
Wipe Them Down After Walks
During walks in snowy or icy conditions, your pet will get wet, which will just make them colder. Wipe down their paws, legs, and belly when they come back inside so you can remove that freezing water. The wipe down will also remove any dangerous antifreeze or deicing chemicals they may have stepped in during their walk.
If your pet is whining, shivering, lethargic, weak, or looking for warm places to burrow, they are showing signs of hypothermia and you need to take measure to warm them up. Frostbite is harder to detect, and may not be fully recognized until a few days after the damage is done. If you suspect your pet has hypothermia or frostbite, call us at Cliffdale Animal Hospital immediately so we can get them the care they need.
When winter weather hits, be sure you’re ready for it. For more information on the best ways to protect your pets in winter, call Cliffdale Animal Hospital at (910) 487-5013.