Just as you wouldn’t want to leave a dog or cat locked in a hot car in the middle of summer, you don’t want to leave your pets to fend for themselves outside in the dead of winter, either. In fact, a new law was just passed in Pennsylvania that makes it illegal to tether a dog outside for more than 30 minutes when the temperature is below 32 degrees or higher than 90 degrees.
While keeping your pets indoors in freezing temperatures is one excellent way to make sure they’re safe from frostbite and other serious health risks, following these eight cold weather tips can help to ensure that your pet is as safe, comfortable, and cozy as possible all winter long.
1. Never Shave Your Dog in the Winter
Don’t shave your dog or cat down to it’s skin in the winter, as its fur acts as insulation and helps to regulate body temperature. However, if you have a long-haired dog, you can trim his fur to minimize snow and ice clumps and dry skin and irritation. This is especially important if your dog has long fur between his toes.
2. Always Remove Snow and Ice from the Pads of Your Dog’s Feet
Snow and ice can easily become clumped between the pads of your dog’s feet, especially if he is long-haired. When you come home from a walk in the winter, make sure you remove snow clumps and rinse off his feet with warm water to remove salt and other chemicals that are usually on the roads and sidewalks this time of year.
3. Dry Your Pet’s Stomach after a Walk
Similarly, ice, salt, and chemicals can get caught in the hair on your pet’s stomach and can cause dry skin, irritation, and rashes if not washed off. Towel dry your pet as soon as you get home from a walk or when he comes in from playing outside in the snow.
4. Bathe Sparingly
Even though this time of year can be particularly messy for dog owners, try to avoid giving Fido frequent baths when the temperatures are low. Not only can this contribute to dry, flaking skin, but it can also make him more susceptible to the cold until he is completely dry again.
5. Use Pet-Friendly Ice Melting Products
Not all ice melts are safe for pets. Some can be toxic if ingested, and others may irritate or damage your dog’s paws when he walks over them. Luckily, there is a variety of pet-friendly ice melting products available that are safe and gentle for your pet, while helping to remove slippery spots on your sidewalk.
6. Check under Your Car
Underneath your warm car or beneath the wheel wells can be enticing spots for cats to hang out and warm up. Whether you have cats of your own or have neighbors who have cats, keep an eye out for them before pulling out of your driveway.
7. Know Your Pet’s Tolerance
Not all dogs are going to be able to tolerate the cold the same way. Obviously, long-haired dogs and certain breeds like huskies and malamutes are going to do better in colder temperatures than smaller, short-haired breeds like chihuahuas and Boston terriers.
Dogs who are older or who have health issues like diabetes or Cushing’s disease will have a harder time regulating their body temperature and staying warm outside.
8. If It’s Too Cold for You, It’s Too Cold for Your Pet
Remember that if you wouldn’t be comfortable standing outside in the cold for a long period of time, neither will your dog. Bring your pets inside when temperatures drop, and make sure they always have access to fresh water. Some dogs may need slightly more food in the winter to help them maintain a healthy body weight.
Do you have cold weather pet tips that aren’t included here? Feel free to share them with us and our readers on our Facebook page!