5 Tips To Care For Your Pet In Winter

By Dr. Emily Bishop, Veterinarian

1. Know the limit – just like people, pet’s tolerance for the cold varies. A good rule of thumb is to limit outdoor walks/activities to no more than 30 minutes at a time. Thin, short-haired, very young or senior pets tend to have a reduced tolerance for the colder weather! If it’s too cold for you, it’s likely too cold for your pet.

2. Bundle up! – Although many dogs possess a fur undercoat which helps to insulate them in the cold, a coat/sweater or even some boots can help protect them from cooler temperatures and the cold ground.

3. Wipe their paws – during winter walks your pet’s paws can collect salt and other toxic antifreeze agents. It’s a good idea to wipe off your dog’s paws upon returning home to prevent them from licking/ingesting anything they’ve picked up and becoming sick. Road salt can dry out their paws and cause cracking or bleeding, which is another reason to wipe those paws. Using booties can help protect their paws if you find they are becoming red and irritated.

4. Be seen, be safe – as the days get shorter in the winter months, many of us find ourselves walking our dogs in the dark. Remember to wear reflective/bright/highly visible clothing, or use a leash/collar that is reflective/lights up when walking along the road.

5. Shelter – even if your pet normally spends a lot of time outdoors, there will be times when it is cold enough that they should be brought inside. Hypothermia and frostbite are serious concerns for pets as temperatures fall below freezing.

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