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Exposure to winter’s dry, cold air and chilly rain, sleet and snow can cause chapped paws and itchy, flaking skin, but these aren’t the only discomforts pets can suffer. Winter walks can become dangerous if chemicals from ice-melting agents are licked off of bare paws. To help prevent cold weather dangers from affecting your pet’s health, please heed the following advice from our experts:
If it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pets. Don’t keep your pets outdoors for long periods of time during very cold weather. Short-coated dogs may need a coat or sweater during walks.
If you have outdoor dogs, make sure they have a dry, draft-free doghouse that:
Salt and other chemicals used to melt ice and snow can harm your pet’s feet. Gently rub the bottom of your pet’s paws with a damp towel to remove these irritants after a walk, or buy dog boots to prevent paw irritation during winter weather. You should also look for signs that your pet’s feet are uncomfortably cold, which could include them frequently lifting up their paws, whining, or stopping.
Pets that spend time outdoors in the winter use a lot of energy to stay warm. Provide a little extra food and regularly check your pet’s water dish to ensure the water is fresh and not frozen. Use plastic food and water bowls instead of metal to prevent your pet’s tongue from freezing to them.
Keep pets on a leash when walking near frozen bodies of water so they don’t run onto the ice. If a pet falls through the ice, do not go onto the ice to rescue them. If you can’t reach your pet from shore, call 9-1-1 or go for help. See more Ice Safety Tips.
Never leave a pet locked inside a car during extremely cold weather. Cars can act like a refrigerator, holding in cold air and putting your pet at risk.
Many types of antifreeze have a sweet taste that can attract animals. Keep antifreeze out of reach from your pets and clean up any spills right away to avoid antifreeze poisoning.
Parked vehicles can attract cats and small wildlife, which may crawl under the hood seeking warmth. Bang on your vehicle’s hood to scare away animals before starting your engine.