If your big fluffy dog is anything like my big fluffy dog, they love bounding outside into freshly fallen snow and catching snowballs that are tossed to them. While supervised play time is great, winter presents the hazard of long exposure to low temperatures, and that can be dangerous.
Yes, your dogs and cats have fur but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are insulated in the way polar bears and penguins are. PetMD lists seven critical tips for taking care of your pets this winter, starting with taking care of their paws. According to Dr. Rebecca Ruch-Gallie, service chief for the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital’s community practice, a dog’s legs, tail and ears are the most susceptible body parts for frostbite. If your dog refuses to wear little winter booties, just make sure to wipe down their feet with a towel after any possible exposure to deicers, salt and sand.
On the opposite side of the ledger, you also need to be careful about how much heat they are exposed to indoors. Cats especially tend to seek out sources of heat in the house as spots to cuddle up or take a nap. But Dr. Ruch-Gallie warned that these places present burn risks for pets because they aren’t aware of how hot they can get. (My cat tends to curl up on my wireless router.)
The ASPCA noted that pets burn extra energy trying to stay warm in wintertime – just like us – so feeding your pet a little bit extra during the cold weather months can provide much-needed calories. Making sure they have plenty of water to drink will also help keep them well-hydrated and their skin less dry.
Those at the ASPCA also want to remind people that if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pets. If left outdoors too long, pets can freeze, become disoriented or get lost, stolen, injured or killed. They added that you shouldn’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold.
All that said, pet care in the winter also involves extra snuggles on those very cold nights. Give them some extra loving on these long, dark nights!