Winter is here and the lands are blanketed with snow. It's a beautiful sight for everyone, even for our furry companions. Some cats and dogs will be adventurous, taking every chance to play outside while others will prefer the warmth and cosiness of the house. As a responsible pet owner, it is important to know some essential tips to keep pets safe and happy in the snow.
Introduce your pet to snow
If your pet is seeing snow for the first time, take them outside to explore in a safe, enclosed environment. Stay with them to make them feel comfortable or to let them in if they want to rush back inside.
Provide outdoor shelter
If your pet loves to stay outside, be sure that they have a shelter from the wind, snow and ice. Provide fresh water and check water bowls frequently to be sure they’re not frozen.
Regularly check your cat flap to make sure it hasn’t frozen
Check your cat’s access point regularly so it doesn’t become frozen over or blocked by snow.
Bang on the hood of your car to alert a cat
As cats may hide underneath cars for warmth, it's important to check under your hood to make sure cats aren’t using it. Look under the hood and bang lightly on the car to alert any cat that it’s time to move.
Clean up antifreeze spillsMost antifreezes have a sweet taste and can be inviting for animals to ingest. This can make pets gravely ill and requires immediate emergency veterinary treatment! Be aware of any puddles caused by antifreeze leaks in your garage or driveway. If you happen to spill antifreeze while adding it to your car, clean it up immediately and make sure all antifreeze containers are wiped clean on the outside and tightly sealed before storing them away.
Check paws and wipe off any grit
Check your pet's paws when they come inside and gently wipe off any grit, salt, or compacted snow. If you notice any skin discolouration, pain, swelling, or blisters, take your pet to the vet for treatment.
Choose pet safe ice melting products
Paw pads can become burned and irritated by the ice melting salt products that get spread on sidewalks and driveways. To protect outdoor animals, switch to one of the pet safe ice melting products available instead of using traditional rock salt. Also be sure to wipe your pet's feet before they begin to lick their paws as excessive licking can become another source of irritation.
Check for signs of frostbite
Outdoor pets are susceptible to frostbite, especially on the ear tips. Always make sure your pet is indoors when the temperature gets uncomfortable and examine them physically to look for signs of frostbite.
Make sure they have access to water and food indoor
Playing around in the cold can really build up their appetite. Make sure your pet is well fed, and stays well hydrated by always keeping a bowl of fresh water indoor.
Pay close attention to sick or elderly pets
Winter requires a new set of responsibilities when it comes to owning an elderly pet. The cold outdoor environment is especially tough on the stiff joints of older pets. Their bones and joints become weaker and they begin to slow down. A new diet may be in order, or proper exercise and warmer living spaces. Older pets can also become more easily disoriented, especially in snow. Keep outdoor time short and be sure they have a warm spot to rest when they come back in.
Be safe during outdoor adventures
Adventuring through the snow can be exhilarating for most dogs and even some cats. Be aware that snow can also hide potential dangers like partially frozen lakes, hunter traps or tree wells. Be sure to provide you pet with the gear they need to have a fun and safe day outdoors. If you plan on taking your furry companion camping, have a look at our Must-have Winter Camping Essentials for Your Adventure Dog post.
And most importantly, don’t forget to have fun! Short walks on warmer, sunny days or a quick run through powdery snow are other great ways for you and your pets to get a bit of exercise and enjoy the fresh air on those beautiful winter days.
By Noémie-Capucine Quessy