It’s a fail-safe that every year once we have snow on the ground and freezing temperatures we can’t help but daydream about the summer sun. Until we can rejoice again in 80+ degree weather, let’s talk about some ways to make winter a little more bearable for our pets.
Our activities are limited in this cold weather for safety reasons. All animals are different in how they can handle the cold due to size, breed, coat type, etc., but generally speaking once the temperature falls below 30 degrees time spent outside should be minimal. Beyond temperature; wind chill, snow, and ice can also present risks to your pet if exposed for too long. If you need some indoor enrichment ideas check out our Winter Enrichment Blog!
Snow and ice can easily get stuck in between your pets’ paw pads so always check and dry their paws once they come inside, paying special attention to the area in between their paw pads. Their paw pads can also become very dry and irritated with cold weather so consider a pet-safe balm or a natural home remedy such as coconut oil to help keep them moisturized. Make sure you are also using pet friendly ice melt. Many ice melts can be toxic to your pet if consumed such as licking it off their paws while grooming. We recommend “Safe Paw Ice Melter.”
Pet boots are a great way to keep your pets paws protected, assuming they will wear them. You may need to get them comfortable wearing boots with encouragement, treats, and some practice. Sweaters and jackets are also a great way to keep your pet more comfortable while outside during these cold months.
While some dogs thrive in the snow and love it, others don’t share the same excitement for it. Going outside to go potty can become quite challenging if your dog refuses to do so because of the snow. If you know that snow is coming try laying out a tarp or large board on a grassy area so that you can easily remove it for a snow-free potty zone. Shoveling snow paths for your dog can also be a good way to make sure your pet is comfortable going outside without having to trek through the snow.
The most important thing to remember is that just because our pets have fur coats, this does not mean that they are equipped for being exposed to the freezing temperatures and elements. If you are cold being outside, so is your pet. Some animals (especially stray cats) find comfort in warm areas such as your car’s warm engine once you are parked. Be sure to check before starting your car by knocking on the hood, which will typically scare the animal away so that you can safely start your car. The safest place for your pet is indoors and if this is not possible taking extra precautions to ensure they are warm and comfortable is crucial. Heaters, hay, and adequate shelter to protect them from the elements is the bare minimum of what we should be providing as responsible pet owners. If you need resources or assistance keeping your pet safe always reach out to your local shelter, vet, or animal advocacy group.