Cold Weather Tips

Brrrr…it’s cold outside!  icicle line

Niklas enjoys being outside on a sunny winter day, but comes in to get warm later on.

When the temperature (and the snow) begins to fall, you’ll find that your pet needs a little extra care from you. The following guidelines will help you protect your animals when the mercury dips:

snowflake Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm—dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours   always wears ID tags.

snowflake Thoroughly wipe off your dog’s legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.

snowflake Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth.

snowflake Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside.

snowflake If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself or consider getting him a coat or sweater with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.

snowflake Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him—and his fur—in tip-top shape. On the other hand, indoor dogs may get less exercise in the cold months, and will need fewer calories to avoid weight gain.

Nanny Millie enjoys winter in her warm coat, which some seniors may need.

snowflake When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk.

snowflake Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.

snowflake Though we believe your dog should be inside and part of your family, if he does live outdoors or spend long periods of time there, he needs a dry, elevated doghouse with clean, dry bedding and a flap over the opening to keep drafts out. Click here for how to build a great outdoor doghouse (scroll down the page).

snowflake Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center more information.

snowflake Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog (or cat) bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.

Delilah enjoys a soft blanket and warm fire in her foster home.

With thanks to the ASPCA