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Cold Weather Pet Precautions

Whipping winds, deep snow, and icy roadways—all these things may sound like every human’s winter nightmare, but these hazardous conditions can pose a threat to our pets, too. Just like us, certain adjustments need to be made to help our pets adapt to the changing season.

Grooming and personal care As you might consider cutting your hair less and applying more lotion to protect against harsh winter air, your pet’s grooming needs change with the weather as well.

Trimming or shaving Long-haired dogs should only receive a trim this time of year, as the long coat helps keep them warm. Short-haired dogs can be groomed, but avoid shaving down to the skin.

Bathing Washing your dog strips his skin and fur of essential oils needed to keep them moisturized, so consider keeping baths to a minimum.

Moisturizing Be sure to keep the environment in your home comfortable by using a humidifier, which will help keep his skin and fur (and yours, too), nice and soft. You can also apply petroleum jelly or a homemade paw balm to paws to keep them protected.

Environmental dangers There is a whole host of chemicals we use during the winter months that could be a danger to pets, as well as toxins they may come into contact with naturally.

Anti-freezing chemicals Road salt and antifreeze are everywhere in winter, and both are toxic to cats and dogs. Wash your pet’s paws after a walk down the street, and keep all chemicals far away and out of reach.

Natural toxins It’s not just chemicals that are dangerous; winter plants like poinsettia and mistletoe are poisonous and should be kept out of the way. Chocolate is also dangerous for dogs, so be wary when holiday guests (who may be more likely to feed pets from the table) are around.

Staying active and diet Like us, our pets may be less inclined to engage in physical activity when the weather gets cold, but unlike us, our pets may actually need more food this time of year to accommodate for changes in metabolic rates.

Monitor food intake Our pets store more energy in winter, especially very active pets, so it’s important to discuss changes in food intake with your veterinarian to account for this.

Keep them warm If you do let your pet run around in the snow, be wary of the amount of time they’ve spent outside. Small dogs are particularly affected and can only withstand these temperatures for a short amount of time—fifteen to twenty minutes is a safe amount for most pups.

Bring them inside Never leave a pet chained outside for an extended period of time in winter. If you typically keep your pet outdoors, limit their exposure in winter and consider bringing them inside where it’s warm.


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