Cold weather safety for pets

It’s wonderful to see that many people are spending more time outdoors this winter than ever before. What’s even greater is that pet owners are letting their pets join in on the fun! Outdoor activity is beneficial for people and pets alike, but it’s important that you take appropriate precautions when dealing with any type of extreme weather.

Going for walks and hikes is one of the easiest and most accessible ways you can spend quality time with your dog in the winter. If you’re planning on taking your dog on a number of outdoor adventures, make sure to keep his/her coat its natural length. Needless to say, this will help keep your best friend nice and toasty. For shorter haired breeds, jackets are an easy way to ensure your dog is warm with the added bonus of looking extra snazzy. Some jackets even come with reflectors which is a great safety feature for evening strolls.

Although dog paw pads are built tough, freezing temperatures, salt and ice debris can wreak havoc on them. There are a few ways that you can protect those furry feet: booties (which your dog may or may not agree with), paw balm and towels. Bring a towel on your walks so you can periodically wipe away any snow, ice and salt accumulation. It’s a good idea to wipe your dog’s paws and underside after every walk.

As you and I reach for our jar of hand lotion for the seventh time today, your pet’s skin may also be flakier and drier during the winter months. It is best to keep bathing sessions to a minimum. Bathing too often can remove the natural oils that keep your pet’s skin moisturized. When their skin is dry, pets tend to scratch and gnaw themselves incessantly, often so much that they develop sores. If your little rascal decided to roll in some questionable organic material on your walk and you have no choice but to run a bath, choose a moisturizing shampoo.

Keeping the humidity levels in your home elevated (not too high!) helps keep pets’ skin and sinuses more comfortable. The ideal humidity level in your home should range between 30% and 50%. Running small humidifiers throughout your living space makes a big difference. If you have a woodstove, consider placing a big pot of water on the top – just be careful and don’t let the water completely evaporate before refilling.

When it comes to cold weather safety, remember this: If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pet. Do not leave pets unattended or outdoors for extended periods of time. Winter activities can be wonderful for you and your pet when done safely. Have fun enjoying the great outdoors!

Stay informed on GTHS events, initiatives and programs. Learn how the GTHS team is serving the pets and people of the South Georgian Bay Area. Read heart-warming Happy Tails about GTHS Alumni. See a lot of really cute pictures of dogs and cats!