How to Keep Pets Warm and Safe During Extreme Winter Weather
Many of us are currently experiencing colder-than-cold temperatures (yes, it's below freezing even here in Austin, TX), so it's a good time to revisit a few cold weather pet tips. Here are some ideas to help keep your pets safe and happy all through the winter.
Adjust normal routines.
Do you usually go for an hour-long walk in the park each morning? Does your dog or cat hang out in the backyard all day while you're at work? Obviously snow and extreme temperatures may require that you change things up for a few days, so put your pet's best interests in mind and allow them/convince them to stay inside where it's warm.
Watch out for road hazards.
Antifreeze is tempting and dangerous to dogs, so steer clear of colorful puddles when you're outside. Also, de-icing salt is an irritant to footpads, so wipe off those little feet when you go inside and consider outfitting your pup with booties if you walk in a particularly salty/treated area of town.
Avoid fire mishaps.
While staying cozy inside, be sure that pets can't accidentally burn themselves on radiators, space heaters or fires in the fireplace.
Monitor food and water levels.
Pets may need a few more calories in the winter, and just because it's cold doesn't mean dehydration can't occur. Make sure they have access to all they need to stay healthy.
Just because you're cooped up inside doesn't mean you have to be lazy. Engage your pets with playtime, offer puzzle toys, and shower them with plenty of affection during these snow days. (And the more they exert themselves, the less likely you'll have to deal with bad behavior like barking and chewing.)
Trim shaggy pets and examine paws regularly.
Snipping away any hair that might collect snow and ice will make your long-haired dog or cat much more comfortable. After time outside, take a look at sensitive foot pads to be sure no cuts or chapping are present.
Keep an eye on older pets.
According to Chicago veterinarian Dr. Tony Kremer, arthritis can often feel worse when the temperature is cold, so talk to your vet if you notice any symptoms of pain or decreased mobility in your pet. Your pet's doctor may choose to administer an anti-inflammatory to help alleviate any discomfort.
If you have a road trip coming up, think about safety (for yourself and your pet) and adjust your plans accordingly. If you're flying with a pet soon, check with your airline to see if they've altered their schedules in light of the cold weather -- especially regarding cargo travel.
Do you have any cold weather pet tips to share? Tell us how you make it through the most brutal winter days. Stay warm, everyone!