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Thursday, January 23, 2020

9 Essential Tips for Keeping Your Pets Safe in the Snow

Photo by: Ebowalker (pixaby)

During the cold months of winter and early spring, it is, of course, still important that our pets get fresh air and exercise, but it is equally important that we take all measures to properly care for our pets and protect them against the unique challenges of winter. There are nine simple things that we can do as pet owners to help our furry friends stay healthy and comfortable in the cold.

1. Clear the Way

Shovel a clear path to a designated potty spot for your pet. Doing this will help keep them most comfortable and out of deep snow. It may also speed up the process in cold weather as, with training, they understand the purpose of the outing and get on with their business quickly to get back to cozier indoors.

2. Take Care to Remove Rock Salt from Paws

Ingesting rock salt can be harmful and upset your pet's stomach. After a walk on treated surfaces, pet parents can remove salt from their dog's paws by dunking them in warm water and gently wiping them clean. If there's a small amount of rock salt, a wet cloth could work well enough. Note that if you have a walkway or driveway that is treated with rock salt, there are pet-safe varieties that are recommended and available to pet owners.

3. Avoid Contact with Antifreeze

Antifreeze is needed by many during the cold and snowy months, but those caring for pets should be aware that it is toxic and harmful to animals. It has a sweet smell that might pique a pet's curiosity. Always make sure to properly dispose of antifreeze containers, don't leave them in places they could be gotten into by any pets.

4. Don't Forget Our Pets May Need Layers Too

Once the cold weather rolls in, many of us pull out the winter gear for our families. Along with the coats, hats, gloves, and scarves that we bundle our families in, it is important that we consider our family pets and their cold-weather comfort. If you have a smaller dog or one with a light coat, consider outfitting them for winter with an extra layer. Fleece coats and covers come in all sizes, accommodating dogs both big and small.

5. Bundle Up

After a walk in the dog park in cold weather, pet parents may do well to wrap their pets in a warm towel or blanket in an effort to bring their temperature back up. A hairdryer may also come in handy. When needing to warm up chilly paws, use a hairdryer on a low setting and a bit of a distance so as to avoid burning the paws.

6. Condition Dry and Cracked Paws

Moisturizing a dog's paws during the winter can go a long way in helping them stay comfortable. Cracked skin can become painful and bleed if left untreated. Using Vaseline, generously coat the paws and covering them with booties can help condition their skin to better withstand the wet and cold weather of winter.

7. Avoid Walking on the Ice

When out for walks, do not allow your pet to walk on frozen bodies of water. It's hard to tell from a distance how thick the frozen ice may be and it's simply safest to avoid it. Thin ice can crack and break easily under a dog's weight, increasing the risk of a drowning incident.

8. Properly Trim Hair or Fur on the Feet

Untrimmed foot fuzz can cause ice and snow to cling to our pets, collecting as packed snow and ice between the toes and pads of the feet. Properly trimming a pet's fur about their feet and toes to be even with the surface of the paw can help to avoid the snow clumping. This is especially important for long-haired pets.

9. Stay In

Maybe the simplest tip of all, but as with people, our pets are only meant to handle so much cold, even with their coats. Take all proper care of your pets and follow all local cold weather advisories, limiting exposure to the elements. Be aware of the signs of hypothermia in dogs and take care to avoid putting a pet in an unsafe position.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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