If you live in these United States, then you’re painfully aware that so far, this has been one of the coldest winters ever on record. Well, technically I’m not sure if it’s the coldest on record, but man, it sure feels that way, doesn’t it? Now, if you’re freezing when you step outside your house all bundled up in a warm coat, scarf, hat and gloves, can you imagine how your little furry friends must feel? That fur doesn’t provide as much protection from the elements as you may think. In fact, there’s an old saying: “If you’re cold, so is your pet.” It’s imperative that you keep their safety in mind as we feel the repeated effects of the aptly named polar vortex. Here are some tips to help you keep Fido and Mittens safe and warm.
Keep Them Indoors
The most obvious and logical precautionary step is to keep your animals indoors as much as possible. Just like their human companions, pets are subject to hypothermia if they’re left outside too long in the freezing cold. As the Humane Society points out, pets can suffer permanent damage due to this exposure. Remember how your face froze by the time you walked down your driveway to your car? Well, your dog is experiencing that same discomfort, and even outdoor cats should be kept indoors during the cold winter months.
If keeping your pets indoors all winter isn’t an option, AccuWeather.com notes that it’s imperative to your pet’s safety that you build a waterproof safe haven to protect them from bitter winds and dropping temperatures. Don’t forget to make sure it’s stocked up with clean and dry bedding, and provide plenty of food and water because keeping warm requires lots of energy. Be sure to check on the food and water periodically, though, to make sure it hasn’t frozen.
Who doesn’t love an excuse to buy cute little pet sweatshirts with matching booties? Well, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), those added accessories are not only fashionable, but they’re also functional. Short-haired dogs especially can benefit greatly from wearing a sweater or dog coat, so it’s a good idea to have a variety around the house to keep your dog warm when he ventures outside. Booties can also provide some added protection to cold-sensitive paws. Wipe down your pet when they venture back inside, removing any damp clothing that can make them cold, and avoid shaving your pets down to the skin until temperatures warm up.
Keep Them on a Leash
In cold and icy conditions, it’s very important to keep your dog on a leash. According to the ASPCA, in winter, dogs can easily lose their sense of smell and become lost. Keeping them leashed – better yet making sure they have their ID tags and microchips – will help ensure they stay safe by your side.
Other Safety Concerns
As with any time of the year, it’s extremely important to be aware of dangerous chemicals that can harm your pets. Antifreeze is of particular concern in the winter, along with salt and other ice-melting chemicals that are prevalent in cold weather.
Cats sometimes find shelter under the hoods of cars in the winter, so the ASPCA recommends banging loudly on the hood of your car before starting it to prevent any injuries.
Do you have any tips to share with pet owners? Let us know in the comments below!