Keeping pets safe and happy in winter requires more effort than at other times of the year. That’s primarily because this season is fraught with a variety of hazards that can cause serious illness or injury for your furry companions, up to and including death. To help ensure your pets get through the winter in perfect health, try these useful tips:
For outdoor pets
- Provide easy access to some kind of enclosed shelter – such as a barn, garage, or doghouse – that can offer protection from wind, snow, and freezing rain.
- Place a pet bed or plenty of clean, dry straw in the shelter to give your animal a comfortable means of warming itself. Consider using a heated dog bed or a hot water bottle for instant warmth on the coldest nights.
- Prevent drinking water from freezing in subzero temps by using a heated pet bowl or providing running water.
- Increase your pet’s daily food rations to compensate for the extra energy required to stay warm in winter. The actual amount needed depends on a variety of factors, including activity level, breed, and shelter conditions, so consult a vet for best results.
- Refrain from clipping, trimming, or shaving your pet’s coat until the weather warms up again. This will provide the animal with a natural layer of protection against the elements.
- Bring your pet into your house when dangerous storms or unusually heavy snowfall are predicted.
For indoor pets going outdoors
- Dress smaller, more delicate dogs in a sweater or jacket before going out for a walk. If there is snow and/or salt on the ground, use pet booties to protect the animal’s tender paws.
- Keep walks and outings shorter than usual to help limit exposure to the elements.
- Do not leave pets in an unattended car for extended periods. Just as in summer, the effects of extreme temperatures are exacerbated within the confines of a closed vehicle.
- Keep animals away from antifreeze that has leaked and accumulated in garages or driveways. Antifreeze is tempting to dogs in particular because of its sweet taste, but is incredibly toxic to them.
Surviving the various dangers posed by winter weather can be challenging for even the toughest outdoor pets. Make things easier on them by providing adequate food, water, shelter, warming products, and care throughout the season.