Cats and dogs have different needs when it comes to staying safe in the winter. Even cats who spend time outside during warmer weather often have little interest in going outside when the ground is covered in snow. Fortunately, cats have little reason to go outdoors in the winter when they have food, water, a litter box, and an enriching indoor environment.
It is a different situation with dogs. In addition to eliminating outdoors, they need daily walks and the opportunity to play outside to release their energy. Dogs can become destructive if denied these opportunities. Although going outside in the winter is unavoidable for dogs, we encourage you to limit their exposure to Wisconsin’s sub-zero temperatures.
You can prevent hypothermia and frostbite by dressing your dog in a hat and warm clothing. He may protest, but will eventually come to accept it if he wants to go outside. The snow and ice can be hard on your dog’s paw pads, so make sure you check them regularly. Cracking or bleeding means that ice has gotten stuck on his paw pads and caused damage. One way to avoid this is by staying clear of piles of ice when you walk your dog.
It is also important to trim the tiny hairs between each claw so it doesn’t become matted with snow and ice. Putting protective footwear over each of your dog’s paws keeps them warm and dry. Another good reason not to allow your dog on ice is that she may slip or fall through ice that isn’t strong enough to hold her weight.
Plan for Winter’s Worst
It is rare to get through a winter without at least a few severe weather events. Because of this, we encourage you to create a disaster kit with the needs of both the people and pets in your family in mind. It should contain a minimum of five days’ worth of your pet’s medication, food, and water in case you become stranded in your vehicle or lose power in your home.
Anti-Freeze Can Be Deadly for Pets
To a thirsty dog or cat, anti-freeze looks like a refreshing drink. Besides having a clear appearance, anti-freeze has no discernable odor to send a clue that it isn’t water. Drinking even a small amount of anti-freeze can poison your pet and cause him to become severely ill or die. Be sure to keep your pet indoors away from your car if you are unable to clean spills from your garage floor or driveway right away.
Your Pet Will Let You Know When It’s Time to Come Inside
Shivering, whining, and walking slowly are some of the signals your pet will send you that he is getting too cold. He may also act highly agitated or anxious. When running errands in the winter, it is best to leave your dog at home if you are unable to bring him inside with you. Too much time in a cold car in the winter can have disastrous consequences just like being left in a hot car in the summer.
Please don’t hesitate to contact Grantsburg Animal Hospital or Wild River Veterinary Clinic if you have additional concerns about your pet’s health and safety this winter.