Winter Safety Tips for Your Pets

As the weather continues to get colder, it’s a good time to brush up on some winter safety tips for our pets.

Although some breeds may be more prepared for a winter wonderland with heavy fur coats (think Malamutes, St Bernards etc.), others may need some assistance in the fashion department. Winter booties, sweaters and jackets can add an extra layer of protection for our less furry friends. All breeds of cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite, and preventing exposure as temperatures drop is one way of making sure our furry family members stay safe this winter.

Ice is another wintertime hazard not to be underestimated. Canines rarely measure the thickness before bounding out on frozen lakes and waterways. Make sure your pets remain on a leash if you commonly walk near water as it freezes/melts. Birds and other light creatures can tempt dogs to try ice that is not thick enough to be safe. Even small amounts of ice can be dangerous when it comes to slip and falls. Senior pets are especially vulnerable as cold weather can often exacerbate medical conditions such as arthritis. Provide areas of good traction for pets with poor mobility and a soft warm bed to recover in after exercise.

Wintertime also presents dangers of the chemical variety. Many products used to combat ice and snow can cause symptoms that range from skin irritations to fatal toxicosis. Salt and sand products can often irritate paw pads and skin between toes. Rinsing and drying paws after a walk can help prevent further damage. Booties may look silly but come in handy for keeping extremities away from harsh chemicals and snowballs that can build up in fur. Anti-freeze (ethylene glycol) is an often fatal poison to dogs and cats. It has a sweet scent that attracts pets into eating even small spilled amounts. If you suspect your pet has come in contact with anti-freeze call your veterinarian immediately. If possible, buy anti-freeze made with propylene glycol – while still toxic, it is not as lethal.*

Stay aware of weather warnings during the winter months. If travel outside is going to be hazardous, it is better to be prepared ahead of time in case you become stuck in the house for a few days. Be sure to stock up on any medications your pet may require, as well as food and treats!

Be visible! Vehicles have a harder time stopping quickly in the winter. Walking in the daytime, or wearing reflectors and lights on collars and leashes help drivers see you early and give extra stopping time.

If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for them! On those freezing cold days, keep walks short and do not leave pets in waiting vehicles.

Winter in Kingston can provide many hazards for you and your pets, but being prepared for the season can make the outdoors more enjoyable and safe.

*ASPCA Pet Poison Control

Written by: Maureen, RVT