Winter pet safety is important for cat health and dog health

Even the most conscientious pet owners sometimes make mistakes or overlook situations that might pose a risk to their pet’s safety. In the wintertime, these are mostly outdoor hazards which require awareness, preparation, and knowledge.

As the winter winds and snows comes whistling down, Androscoggin Animal Hospital provides you the resources you need for winter pet safety. If you have any concerns or questions about these tips, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Your pet’s health and safety is our number one priority!

Cold Weather Blunders

Many people assume that a dog’s fur protects them from winter cold. In reality, fur is not adequate protection from winter cold, wind, and wet weather. If you are cold in your winter weather gear, chances are it’s too cold outside for your dog, too, and dogs are just as susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia as people are.

In these frigid conditions, it’s our recommendation to bring your dog indoors. If this is not possible, make sure your outdoor dog has adequate shelter that’s up off the frozen ground, with insulation, protection from wind, and a heating source. You also need to check often to make sure that fresh, unfrozen water is always available.

Outdoor cats should be brought inside as well, even if they are used to being outdoors in other seasons. Even a mud room, garage, or shed can provide them some protection, and you can also check out these DIY cat shelters if you have a feral cat community or neighborhood cats that you worry about in the extreme weather we get here in Maine.

Exercise Precautions

Even in inclement weather, All dogs need potty breaks. Hopefully you’ll be able to join her for a walk now and then, too, and so make sure that she’s protected in the elements. You can do this in a number of ways:

Protect paws – paw pads are sensitive and may need a later of protection. A layer of Bag balm or paw pad wax over her pads before you go out can help protect her paws.

Give her a dog sweater or coat – some dogs can definitely benefit from the extra warmth of a sweater or coat, especially if they have thin skin or a short coat, or have short legs.

Booties – booties may be a good option, especially if your dog spends a lot of time working, hunting, or outdoors with you.

Stay hydrated – even in the cold, pets need access to plenty of fresh water to make sure they stay well hydrated in the elements.

Chemical Concerns

It’s such a simple thing to do, but it’s so important. Each and every time your pet comes in from the cold, check her feet and wipe them clean. Paws and the hair in between paw pads can collect debris, ice, and also toxic chemicals – like antifreeze and deicers.

These chemicals, as well as the salt often used to deice roads, can cause GI problems and poisoning if she licks them off her feet.

It’s also important not to let your pet drink water from puddles near roads or sidewalks that have been treated with deicers or salt. If you are worried that your pet has ingested any of these chemicals, please call us or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Hotline immediately.

Frozen Waterway Hazards

Many of us love to go ice fishing, and our dogs can be perfect companions. However if you are frequenting a body of water or frozen lake it is extremely important to be aware of conditions, including ice thickness. If you don’t know about the ice, keep your dog on leash so you can easily grab them if the ice breaks.

If the worst happens, call 911 immediately. Rescuers are trained how to help your dog, and if you follow her out, you’re likely to fall in as well.

Winter Pet Safety

Exposure to winter’s cold, wind, sleet, and snow can cause both minor discomforts, but also dangerous situations. To help prevent cold weather dangers from affecting your pets, be prepared for winter pet safety. If you need help navigating these tips and precautions, give us a call with your questions. We’re here to help keep your pets healthy and safe.