woman walking dog in the cold snow

Keeping our pets safe during the winter is critical for their overall health and wellness. There’s a great deal that can be done before and during the seasonal lows, and we’ve got hot tips for cold paws.

Use It or Lose It

Winter pet safety hinges on providing a pet with all the right gear to guard against the elements. To ensure that daily activities persist outside, invest in insulating clothing that keeps their core warm. If they’ll accommodate you, have them wear waterproof booties to protect the skin on their paw pads. If not, be sure to wash their feet in warm water at home afterwards to remove any ice balls in between their toes or build up of salt for deicing chemicals.

Warmth Counts

All pets, but especially senior pets and those with osteoarthritis, benefit from self-warming bedding that supports their joints and beats out drafts. 

If they insist on remaining outdoors long after you decide to head indoors, watch them carefully and persuade them to come in after a few minutes. Be sure to have a warm, dry shelter for them and plenty of water. 

When Is It Too Cold?

Younger animals, seniors, and those with certain medical conditions should be protected from the cold at all costs. 

Hypothermia can occur when a pet’s internal temperature dips far below normal, or under 99 degrees in dogs and 100 degrees in cats. Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can cause the following symptoms of hypothermia:

  • Fluctuating heart rate (from fast to slow) and respiration (also from fast to slow breathing)
  • Delayed reactions or responses
  • Paleness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Consciousness issues

Hypothermia is a very real pet emergency and must be treated immediately. 

Frostbite is equally common in pets during the winter months, but doesn’t carry the same risks to their overall health and longevity. Blueish white skin that feels brittle to the touch may have little to no blood circulation and must be warmed up slowly with a warm, dry towel or blanket. 

Other Risks to Winter Pet Safety

Ethylene glycol, the main chemical in antifreeze products, is highly poisonous to pets, but they don’t know that when they sample the sweet syrup found on garage floors or driveways. 

Luckily, there are pet-safe products available that contain propylene glycol. That said, always store bottles effectively behind closed cabinets, clean up any puddles, and discourage licking at the ground when outside. The symptoms of antifreeze poisoning include the following symptoms requiring emergency assistance:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of coordination

Hunkering Down

Winter pet safety is at the forefront of our minds this season. If you have any questions or concerns, or your pet needs a little extra support, we welcome your call at (732) 677-2180Our veterinarians are always here for you at True Care Veterinary Hospital.