How to keep pets safe in winter weather

Published 10:37 am Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The arrival of cooler temperatures sparks various changes. Chilly air and precipitation can be, especially to pets that are unaccustomed to extreme changes in temperature.

Pet owners may be well aware of the hazards of warm weather, including the threat of leaving pets in hot cars. But cold weather also has its share of risks. Heed these tips to keep pets safe and secure.

• Schedule a well visit. The American Veterinary Medical Association suggests scheduling a visit with a veterinarian to check for any medical issues. Cold weather can aggravate symptoms of certain conditions, such as arthritis. A thorough examination can shed light on potential problems.

• Keep homes humidified. Going in and out of the house and moving from cold air to dry indoor heat can affect pets’ skin. Itching and flaking may result, causing pets to scratch at such areas. Maintain humidity in the home for comfort. The ASPCA also says to reduce bathing to help preserve essential oils on the skin.

• Protect paws outdoors. Pet paws are sensitive to sand, ice, snow and chemical ice melts. Massage petroleum jelly or another protectant onto paw pads, or consider the use of pet booties.

• Keep pets indoors more often. Pets should not remain outdoors for long stretches of time in frigid temperatures, even if they are accustomed to roaming during other seasons, advises The Humane Society of the United States.

• Provide options for sleeping. Come winter, cats and dogs may need new sleep spaces to avoid drafts and stay warm. Give them other spots they can call their own.

• Consider a sweater or vest. Some pets are more tolerant to the cold than others. However, some dogs and cats may benefit from a sweater, vest or coat designed for pets to offer a little more insulation.

• Update identification and contact information. Snow and ice can mask scent cues that help pets find their way home. Update contact information and make sure pets’ collars are on tightly.

• Keep coolant and antifreeze locked away. Coolant and antifreeze are lethal to dogs and cats and should be kept out of reach. Clean up any spills from vehicles promptly.

• Provide fresh food and water. Pets may burn more calories trying to stay warm. Be sure the animal has a little extra food and plenty of water to stay sated and hydrated.

Winter weather requires pets owners to make changes so pets can remain happy and safe.