dog in sweater winter pet safety

Even though winters might be short here in Florida, compared to, say, upstate New York, it can still pack a cold punch. Most of us here in Jax know that the living is definitely a little different in the winter months for us and our pets. But did you know that just as summer requires some special pet safety, winter does, as well?

King’s Trail Animal Hospital has put together a guide to winter pet safety and how to give your pet some TLC during the colder months. 

Fur Is Not Flawless

If your dog is used to romping in the backyard, or your kitty relishes napping in that sunny patch on the front porch, winter may be a rude awakening. No matter how thick your pet’s fur, it’s not warm enough to equip them to remain outdoors for long periods when it’s cold. 

Pets can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite just like humans. Ears, toes, and noses are especially susceptible. And if a pet’s coat gets wet, it’s even harder for them to maintain their core body temperature. 

A great rule of thumb is, if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pet. 

Here are some tips: 

  • Bring pets indoors when it’s cold outside (older pets, sick pets, and puppies and kittens especially should not be outside in the winter).
  • If you have an outdoor pet, make sure they have a warm, dry, draft free shelter.
  • Provide high quality food in the winter to help keep them warm, especially for old, sick, or very young pets.
  • Provide fresh, clean water at all times; make sure water bowls outside don’t freeze.

Winter Weather Gear

Winter brings shorter days and longer nights. If you are walking your dog in the early morning or evening, consider some reflective gear to make her more visible to drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. A reflective leash, collar, or harness works well. You might also consider a blaze orange vest if you live or walk in a rural area, so hunters don’t mistake your dog for a wild animal. 

If you have a dog with short fur or an older dog, a jacket, coat, or sweater may make sense to help insulate her while outdoors. Cold weather also makes paw pads susceptible to cracking or drying. Protect your pet’s paws from the elements with paw balm or a pair of boots.

Winter Pet Safety

Whether you are out and about or relaxing at home, one of winter’s most common pet emergencies is antifreeze toxicity. Antifreeze can cause life threatening poisoning if ingested, and unfortunately it has a sweet taste that pets love. 

In your garage, make sure this is stored well out of reach of pets, and clean up any spills immediately.

Don’t let your pet investigate puddles while on walks, and wipe paw pads, chest, and belly when you come back inside. 

Holiday Pet Hazards

The holiday season brings family, friends, and lots of joyful times. It also brings some very common pet emergencies. Keep the following in mind:

  • Secure Christmas trees to the wall if you have curious or climbing pets.
  • Don’t use tinsel, ribbon, or raffia to secure gifts or in holiday decorations as they can be ingested and cause a foreign body obstruction.
  • Don’t let your pet drinking the tree water, as it can contain harmful chemicals.
  • Holly, mistletoe and poinsettias can be toxic to pets. Keep these and all holiday decorations out of pets’ reach.
  • Chocolate and Xylitol can cause GI upset and severe complications, including death. Keep all treats away from your pets.
  • Fatty foods such as turkey skin, gravy, buttery potatoes, and high salt casseroles can wreak havoc on your pet’s digestive system and cause a painful condition called pancreatitis.
  • Put leftovers away immediately, and keep trash bins securely covered.
  • Make sure all guests and visitors know the rules when it comes to your pets.

What other winter pet safety ideas to you have to add? Let us know the next time you visit or post on our social media pages. Please contact our team at Kings Trail Animal Hospital if you have any questions.