Keeping our pets safe and warm in winter
By Leslie Phelan
As temperatures dip well below the freezing mark, it’s good to embrace the frosty weather and still stay active with your pup. That being said, cold weather can be dangerous for your dog, and so it’s important to stay flexible and know when to shorten the walks, dress appropriately, and be cautious of common winter-time accidents that could happen to anyone with pets in their care. As the cold snaps come through, knowing how to play it safe in extremely cold temperatures could end up saving your pet’s life.
Make them easy to ID:
Credit: Instagram / @peteethehusky
Ever wonder why so many pets seem to go missing during the winter months? Well, outside of avalanche and bobcat attack-prone areas, the reason is because snow covers tracks, and obscures the landmark scents that usually guide a pet home. The best solution to this problem is to keep their collar tags updated with your phone number and address. Microchipping them also helps, but since the neighbor that will likely chance upon your lost dog probably doesn’t have a chip reader in their home or car, a well-fitting collar with your contact info legibly inscribed is your best bet for a speedy recovery of a lost pet.
Sweaters and mittens:
Credit: Instagram / @kodiaktheaussie
Small dogs, short-haired dogs, and basically any dog that wasn’t born in a thick, full fur coat, needs a coat or at least a sweater for winter walks, and foot protection also helps keep them warm and dry. Don’t put a wet or damp coat on your pup; it’s counter-productive. If you don’t have access to a clothes dryer to give wet gear a quick, warm tumble, consider buying a few different coats and sweaters so that there is always a dry one on hand.
Know their cold tolerance:
There are many factors which contribute to a pet’s cold tolerance level – the thickness of their coat, their body fat stores, their level of activity, their age and health. Pets with arthritis are especially sensitive to cold, as it can affect their joints, and older pets aren’t always as nimble on ice and in snow. Short, little dogs get colder faster because their bodies are deeper in the snow. Short-haired pets freeze the fastest and are in need of coats and sweaters before they can brave the frosty outdoors. Pets with certain illnesses experience difficulty regulating their body temperature and need to be watched closely when outside. Long-haired, thick-coated dogs love the extreme cold, but unless your pet is a husky or a polar bear, there is also a limit to what they can comfortably take. Research and consult your vet!