10 Tips to Keep Your Pet Safe This Winter

From freezing temperatures, to snow, to chemicals used, there are a lot of things pet owners...
From freezing temperatures, to snow, to chemicals used, there are a lot of things pet owners should be aware of to protect the safety of their four legged friends during the winter season.(MGN)
Published: Jan. 11, 2023 at 2:59 PM CST
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - PRESS RELEASE:

From freezing temperatures to snow, to chemicals used, there are a lot of things pet owners should be aware of to protect the safety of their pets during the winter season.

Dr. Sarah Wooten, DVM and Pumpkin Pet Insurance Veterinary Expert shares her “10 Tips to Keep Your Pet Safe This Winter,” which include:

  • Paw Problems: Cold temperatures, dry winter air and ice melt/deicer chemicals can cause chapped paw pads. Wipe/wash and dry your pet’s paws after walking your pet, and if they are chapped, apply a pet-safe paw balm to the pads. When walking on snow, ice balls can form on the underside of dog paws if they have long fur. Keep fur in on the underside of the paws trimmed short to reduce incidence, or consider using booties.
  • Frostbite: Frostbite looks like red, gray, white, or blackened skin. Toes, ear tips, and tail tips are at risk for frostbite in below freezing temperatures, especially in very young, very old, short hair, or small pets. Limit exposure to below freezing temperatures for at-risk pets, monitor other pets, and provide shelter if your pet sleeps outside.
  • Ice melt/deicers: Most are not pet friendly, and can cause stomach upset if licked off skin, and be extremely irritating to paws. Use a pet-friendly formula, and wipe your pet’s paws and undercarriage off after walking your pet.
  • Dry, Itchy Skin: Some pets are prone to dry, itchy skin in the winter, which manifests in rashes and excessive scratching/chewing. Run a humidifier, and towel dry your pet if they get wet while outside. Reduce how often you bathe your pet and if you do bathe, use an oatmeal shampoo.
  • Chemicals: Antifreeze used in cars, if ingested by pets, is usually fatal! Keep antifreeze safely stored away from pets, and if it spills or leaks, sprinkle cat litter to absorb it and then wipe the soaked litter up. Don’t let your pet drink from puddles in garages or runoff from driveways. Similarly, rat poison, which is often used to winterize garages, is attractive to dogs. If you use it, make sure it is inaccessible to your pets. In addition, mice that are killed by rat poison can be eaten by cats, so it is best to keep cats inside.
  • Cold Temperatures: Cold temperatures will exacerbate arthritic conditions, making arthritic pets painful and achy. Older pets have a harder time staying warm due to circulation issues. Providing a heated sleeping area and extra blankets can truly ease pain and make it easier for older or arthritic pets to get around. If your pet spends time outside, make sure they have a warm, sheltered place to rest, keep an eye on the temperature, and put a coat on them if needed.
  • Weight Gain: Pets are often less active during the winter, and more likely to pack on extra weight. If your pet is sedentary and spends a lot of time indoors during the winter, talk to your vet about reducing the number of calories you feed your pet to avoid winter weight gain. In contrast, if your pet is outdoors and active during the winter, they may need additional calories to keep warm – so ask your vet what is right for your pet.
  • Cats Sleeping on Car Engine: Cats will crawl up under a hood and sleep on a car engine because it is warm. This can be disastrous if the engine is started. If your car is parked on a street or driveway, check for cats under the hood by tapping on the hood and looking between the tire and wheel well. This can save a cat’s life.
  • The Dark: With shorter days, the incidence of traffic accidents related to low visibility rises. If you walk your dog in the dark, wear reflective clothing and put a reflective collar, harness, or jacket on your dog.
  • Keep Dog on Leash: Dogs can lose their way because scents are lost in snow. Don’t let your dog off the leash during a snowstorm or anywhere that is not enclosed.

Even if you take all the right winter safety precautions for your pet, unexpected accidents and illnesses can still happen, so having the added protection of pet insurance is a smart idea. If your pet does get hurt or sick, vet care can be costly. A pet insurance plan can help reimburse you for a portion of your eligible veterinary expenses and make it easier to afford the care they need to recover. One pet insurance provider that offers insurance plans for both dogs and cats is Pumpkin.