14 cold weather safety tips that pet owners should know

118 views | 10:51am on Thursday 6th May 2021

Winter will be approaching so quickly along with freezing temperatures in many regions of the world. Now, it's a good time for us to prepare things to protect our pets from the very cold winter ahead. Don’t miss out on this article as right now are 14 cold weather safety tips that pet owners should know.

Just like us, our pets are also affected by the cold weather, too. Without good care, they could be at risk when the weather outside is so frightful. If you are not sure what to do to protect your pets from threats posed by cold weather, this article with a lot of useful information about cold weather safety tips for pet owners right below here might be helpful for you. So, keep reading on to know what you should do for your pets when the harsh winter is coming.

cold weather safety tips

Just like us, our pets are also affected by the cold weather, too

Know your pets’ limits

Knowing your pet’s limits is one of the very first cold weather safety tips that pet owners should know. Similar to us, pets’ ability to withstand cold weather varies from pet to pet, depending on their hair coat type and length, body fat stores, health status, activity level, and the amount of time spent outside.

Normally, shorted-coated, thin, and especially arthritic, elderly, and very young pets, as well as pets with chronic illness, have much lower cold tolerance than adult pets who are relatively healthy.

Although thick-coated or long-haired pets tend to be more tolerant of cold, they’re still at risk in the cold weather. Short-legged pets may get cold faster than long-legged ones because their bodies and bellies seem to likely come into contact with the cold ground.

So, it’s always very important for pet owners to be aware of pets’ cold tolerance so that they can adjust accordingly to protect them from cold weather-associated health risks. And you will need to consult with a veterinarian to determine your pets’ temperature limits.

cold weather safety tips

Cold weather safety tips for pets: It’s necessary to know your pet’s limit

Limit your pets’ outdoor time in winter

Your pets may love to spend time outside the house, but in cold winter, even the furriest ones can get cold. It is a common belief that cats and dogs seem to be more resistant than people to cold temperatures due to their fur, but of course, it’s not true.

Like us, they are also very susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia. When the temperature outside drops, you need to shorten the outdoor time of your pets and avoid long exposure to cold temperatures.

Longer-haired and thicked-coated pets like Huskies, for example, are more tolerant of the cold weather, but of course, no pet should be left outdoors for long periods when the temperatures drop below freezing. During cold winter, they should be kept inside unless otherwise necessary.

cold weather safety tips

Check your pet’s paws frequently 

Cold weather safety tips for pets: Check the paws frequently

Though the paws contain your pets’ thickest skin, it doesn’t mean that they are invulnerable to cold weather damage.

You should also check your pet’s paws daily for signs of cold-weather injury such as bleeding or cracked paw pads. Besides, you also probably need to keep the fur between your pet’s toes trimmed short to reduce the chance of iceball accumulation on his feet. 

Wipe down

When your pets are outside, their paws, legs, and even belly are exposed to salt products and chemicals like antifreeze or de-icers. Hence, you need to wipe off or wash their feet, legs, and belly after getting back inside to remove these chemicals as well as reduce the risk that your pets lick them off of their feet or fur. Also, consider using pet-safe deicers for your home to protect your pets and other dogs, cats, … in your neighborhood.

cold weather safety tips

Cold weather safety tips for pets: Consider getting your pet a coat or a sweater if he/she is small or has short coat

Another layer of protection

A longer and thicker coat will provide your pets with more warmth on cold winter days, especially when they go outside. It may be a big mistake if you cut down a lot of your pet’s fur in wintertime. So, never shave your pet’s fur down to the skin in wintertime.

Pets with longer or thicker fur might not need an extra layer of protection to go outside. But with smaller pets and those who have shorter coats or seem bothered by the cold winter, consider getting them cold weather outfits like a coat or a sweater.

Remember that wet coats or sweaters can actually make your pet colder. So, it’s better if you have several on hand and you can always use dry coats or sweaters each time your pet goes outside. 

Also, some pet owners protect their pets’ feet with booties. If you want to use them, please make sure that they fit properly.

Check under the hood for cats

The next cold weather safety tips for pet owners to know is to check under the hood. In winter, outdoor and feral cats often seek a respite from the cold, and a warm vehicle engine is an appealing heat source for them.

Therefore, you should always check underneath your car, bang on your car hood, and honk the horn before you get in and start the engine. Doing this will encourage sleeping cats to run off, preventing injuries to them when the car starts running.

cold weather safety tips

In the winter, do not leave your pets in cold cars

Do not leave your pets in cold cars

Just as how hot cars are dangerous for pets in summer, cold cars also pose significant threats to the health of your pets. Cars cool down so rapidly in the cold weather and can quickly chill your pet.

As we mentioned above, shorted-coated, arthritic, elderly, and very young pets and those with illness are all susceptible to cold environments. They should never be left in a cold car.

So, you should only take your pets if it’s really necessary, and also never leave them unattended in the vehicle.

Cold weather safety tips for pets: Avoid the ice

When walking your dog in the winter, be sure to avoid frozen ponds, lakes, and other water. It’s so hard to know if the ice is able to support your pet’s weight, and it will be so dangerous for your dog if the ice breaks. In case this happens and you instinctively try to save your pet, then it’s so dangerous for both of you.

Feed well and keep a healthy weight

Though pets burn extra energy to keep warm in the cold winter, do you know that cold temperatures may also bring on the lazy behavior of your pet, making them need fewer calories?

Some pet owners suppose that a little extra weight will give their pets some more protection from cold, but that’s not completely true. The health risks that are associated with that extra weight make it not necessary to do that.

cold weather safety tips

Cold weather safety tips for pets: Feed well and keep a healthy weight

The most important thing that you should do is to feed your pets well and keep them a healthy weight. Be attentive to your pet’s activity level as well as his or her condition and adjust the winter diet and calories accordingly.

Normally, outdoor pets will need more energy during the cold winter to provide enough body heat and calories to keep them warm. If you want to know how you should feed your pets in the winter, talk to your veterinarian about the nutritional needs of your pets.

Keep the pets hydrated

This cold weather safety tips for pets may sound unnecessary, but it’s actually a misconception that pets do not need water as often as in warmer seasons.

In fact, dehydration can happen in any season. In the winter, the air is dry and they can dehydrate quickly. Be attentive and keep your pets hydrated during the dry and cold winter. Always be sure that your pets have plenty of clean, freshwater to drink throughout the day.

Give them good shelter

We never recommend keeping the pets outside for long periods in cold weather conditions, but if you’re unable to keep your pet inside during cold weather, then at least you have to give him/her a dry, warm, solid shelter. If it’s possible, bring them indoors when the temperatures drop below freezing.

Your pet’s shelter space needs to be large enough so that your pet can sit and lay down comfortably, but it also needs to be small enough to conserve body heat. Besides, the floor of the shelter should be raised a few inches off of the ground and bedding needs to be dry, thick and changed regularly. Have the shelter’s door positioned away from winds and use waterproof materials to cover the doorway.

cold weather safety tips

Cold weather safety tips for pets: Give your pets a good shelter if you are unable to keep them indoor

Visible wear and identification

Winter is the season when more pets become lost than other seasons because snow and ice can disguise recognizable scents which might normally help them find the way back home.

To prevent your pet from becoming lost, you need to keep him/her leashed on walks and/or give him/her reflective gear so that he or she can be seen in the dark.

Also, ensure that your dog or cat has a well-fitting collar with updated identification and contact information as well so that your pet can be safely returned to you in case he or she can’t find a way back home.

Recognize problems

In case your pet has unusual signs like whining, shivering, or seems anxious, slows down, stops moving, looks weak, or starts seeking warm places to burrow, then you need to get them back inside as quickly as possible because they are signs of hypothermia.

About frostbite, it seems harder to detect and may take us a few days after the damage is done to fully recognize. Consult your veterinarian immediately if you suspect that your pet has hypothermia or frostbite. That’s one of very important safety tips for extreme cold weather that pet owners need to know.

cold weather safety tips

Consult your veterinarian immediately if you suspect that your pet has hypothermia or frostbite

Be prepared

The last cold weather safety tips for pet owners that we want to introduce to you here is to be prepared. Cold winter also brings the risks of severe weather conditions that can cause blizzards, power outage, and more. It is always so good to be prepared for bad situations like these. Have an emergency kit, and include your pet(s) in your plans as well. Prepare enough water, food, and medication to last your pets through at least 5 days.

Conclusion

Here are some basic and important cold weather safety tips that you should know. Together with these, there are still a lot of other tips and things to know to take care of and keep your pets safe during the severely cold winter. But we still hope that all the tips mentioned above are useful that can help you protect your pets from threats posed by cold weather one way or another.

Sources:

avma.org/resources-tools/pet-owners/petcare/cold-weather-animal-safety

goodgroundanimalhospital.com/blog/f/10-winter-weather-safety-tips-for-pets

aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/cold-weather-safety-tips