Whether your pet loves or hates it, winter is an inevitable part of all our lives. Knowing what is best for your pet is the key to keeping them happy and healthy through the cold and usually dreary months. Fun fact, when our pets feel safe and healthy they will naturally enjoy whatever season they are experiencing. So, let’s dive right in to eight great ways to keep your pet happy and healthy this winter!
1. Know Your Pet
No one knows your pet like you do. Therein lies the joy and responsibility for using your best judgement when it comes to pet activities and outings during the winter months. Only you can discern if Lily the kitty can play out in the screened in porch a few minutes in the afternoons, or if Duke your Chihuahua should be indoors 100% of the time since he never stops shivering, or if Esmerelda the St. Bernard can spend hours enjoying the backyard and never get too cold. Trust the knowledge you have of your pet and keep a watchful eye on them so you can adjust as necessary.
2. Paw Check!
Snow and ice and sand OH MY! After every outing be sure to wipe your pet’s paws thoroughly. Make sure you remove any snow/ice clumps and clear out grainy ice melt or sand as it can get embedded in their fur and paw pads making a simple task like walking extremely uncomfortable for them. Not getting anywhere with the typical towel cleaning? Try a Dexas Mudbuster to make life a little easier and ensure your pet’s paws are free of debris every time!
3. Shine Bright
Surprise! It gets dark around 4:00 PM during the winter, so chances are at least one walk a day is in the dark. Always wear reflective gear (both you and your dog) along with a light (preferably flashing) to ensure you are visible to other walkers and vehicles. Why you AND your dog? Heaven forbid your dog gets away from you! Being able to SEE them is of paramount importance to getting them home safe and sound. Shine brightly and stay safe this winter!
4. Leash up!
Did you know that pets have a greater chance of becoming lost during the cold season due to a lack of scents accessible to them? It is true! When heading out for a winter excursion or play date consider keeping your pet leashed up or making sure their play space is enclosed. In addition, always keep a collar with an up-to-date ID tag on them. Unsure about the terrain of a trail or what wildlife you may come across? Better to be safe than sorry, leash up and keep your loving companion safely by your side all winter long.
5. Beware of hiding spots
Outdoor/stray cats and other small animals are always looking for places to stay warm during the winter. Before starting up your car or using a piece of machinery in your shed double check that somebody has not made themselves a cozy little home in there! Likewise, winter can be tough on nature. Pay close attention to where birds, squirrels, and other less “pet like” animals are nestling down on and around your property. Be mindful and do your best not to disrupt or destroy their winter homes.
The winter is for letting ourselves go a bit, isn’t it? Well, our pets are right there with us for that one. Much like the cracking finger tips we experience from excessive hand washing our pet’s skin dries out much more quickly in the winter. While bathing is important unfortunately it washes away helpful oils that keep their skin moist, thus causing itching, irritability, and even painful cracking. In addition, when it comes time for a trip to the groomer be sure to ask that they leave a little more length than they do in warmer months. Our pet’s fur is a natural and necessary part of keeping them protected during the bitter winter months.
Antifreeze is a deadly liquid that attracts pets due to its sweet taste. YIKES! Always clean up thoroughly after use and keep an eye out for any spills/leaking from your vehicle. Consider trying an alternative antifreeze that uses propylene glycol. Propylene glycol is less tasty, biodegradable, and does not cause kidney damage like ethylene glycol. No matter what product you use always keep out of reach of your pets to ensure their safety.
8. Winter Rule of thumb
Remember, if it’s too cold for you, chances are it is too cold for your pet. There are always exceptions to the rule but even if your dog is the “made for winter” type, such as a Husky or Newfoundland, they all have their cold weather limits. A great way to discern whether your winter loving pet will be safe and comfortable outside is to put on your winter coat and head outside yourself. However long you feel comfortable in the current elements is probably close to the same for your pup. Never assume your furry friend can handle the cold, snowy, or icy weather, test it out to keep them safe.
Winter is unavoidable here in New England so we might as well make the best of it! Understanding your pet and their needs will help you decide what actions to take when it comes to outdoor activities, proper grooming, and knowing their limits. Always cleanup toxic spills, remain visible when out at night, be mindful of the nature around you, and do what is best to always keep your pet safely in your care. These 8 simple tips will have your pet enjoying winter all season long.
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