Harsh winter temperatures can create a safety hazard for pets. The cold weather has the potential to really cause some damage, so it’s important to be careful when the temperatures start to plunge.
People usually slip up by assuming that pets can withstand any temperature thanks to their “fur coats.” It’s certainly true that pets can withstand a little more cold than humans can, but that doesn’t make them invulnerable. And many of the methods that wild animals use to protect themselves from cold simply aren’t available to pets who might want to protect themselves.
Paws are at risk in cold weather for two reasons. First, the cold can crack them. Second, snow salt can irritate them.
Slipping baby socks over your pet’s feet can be a good solution for protecting them when you have to take them outside. You can also coat the bottom of your pet’s feet in Vasoline to stop the cracking. If you take this latter option you’ll have to wipe your pet’s paws when you bring them back in to make sure that you’ve removed all traces of salt.
Resisting the Cold
If you have an outdoor pet make sure he has some sort of shelter. Hay and blankets in a doghouse can provide some protection. However, there’s a big danger that your pet’s water supply will freeze. Snow isn’t a substitute, so you have to keep an eye on it constantly.
Usually, if it’s that cold it’s better to make an exception and bring them on in. Restrict outdoor time to potty breaks and don’t be afraid slip your pet into a dog sweater if he needs it.
And remember, do not ever leave a pet unattended in the car in winter. Extreme cold is just as deadly as extreme heat, and a car becomes a big metal refrigerator whenever the heat isn’t running.
Know the signs of hypothermia.
Hypothermia can strike fast, even if you are doing your best to be safety conscious. If your pet is shivering constantly, has dialated pupils, has blue or pale mucous membranes or seems lethargic, contact your local vet right away.
Remember, if it’s too cold for you it’s too cold for your pet, too! There is plenty of time for pets to go outside and play in the spring. For now, pets and their peeps should worry about staying warm.