Animal Safety in the Winter Months

animal-safety-winter-Deborah-Y.-Strauss,-D.V.M.

With the weather getting colder and colder each week, it is not only important for us to bundle up, but to bundle up our pets as well! The winter season is just around the corner, so here are the best ways to keep your animals safe during the freezing winter months.

Preventative Care

First and foremost, it is crucial to make sure that your animal has had its annual preventative care exam. Taking your pet to the veterinarian for a checkup could identify potential health issues that can arise from the cold weather.

For example, conditions such as arthritis, a weak heart, or respiratory issues can be affected when faced with extreme cold weather conditions. Make sure your pet is in the best health as arthritis can worsen, the heart can fail due to its need to work harder to keep your animal warm, and cold air can irritate respiratory problems and cause infections and shortness of breath.

With the proper diagnosis (if any) and an effective treatment, you can keep your animal safe from winter’s harsh conditions.

Pay Attention

Just like us, animals can also suffer from the effects of cold weather externally as well. Many animals can exhibit sure signs of physical damage simply from coming into contact with excessive ice and snow.

For instance, if you have a dog, you should routinely check their paws throughout the winter season. Snow and ice can accumulate between your dog’s toes, and can cause their paw pads to crack and bleed. Make sure that you clip the hair between your dog’s toes to reduce the effects of iceball accumulation.

Likewise, dogs and many other animals also have a coating of fur to naturally keep them warm. However, the fur is not always effective when the temperature has dropped significantly, and this can make your animal susceptible to hypothermia or frostbite. You should purchase sweaters and properly fitting booties to provide that extra layer of warmth that your animal may need.

Keep them Indoors

Furthermore, the hands-down most effective way to keep your animal safe during the cold winter season is to simply keep them inside! It’s obvious that animals need some time outside as they are naturally inclined to exploration and extensive physical activities such as running, jumping, playing, etc. On the contrary, you do not want to overexpose your animal to freezing temperatures as this will undoubtedly jeopardize their safety. Limit the amount of time you allow your animal to stay outside in cold weathers, and they will thrive and remain healthy for many years to come.

If you see a neighbor’s pet or stray animal struggling outside in the cold for long periods of time, contact a professional to handle the situation.