Winter pet care can keep pets safe during the winter

Here in Virginia, we’re no strangers to winter weather, but the climate affects each pet differently, and winter pet care can be more involved this time of year. Whether your pet loves the snow and cold or they would prefer to snuggle up by the fire, cold weather safety is crucial to the health and comfort of your pet.

Winter Pet Care 101

Winter weather can present some serious safety concerns for our four-legged friends. While the safest and most comfortable place for them is indoors with you, keep the following winter pet care tips in mind for those times when your pet must be outside:

  • Although a pet’s tolerance for cold varies by breed, age, and general health, any pet can suffer from hypothermia, frostbite, or other cold weather injuries. A pet’s fur coat isn’t sufficient to protect them from the elements – always bring your pet indoors when the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, no matter what.
  • All pets should have access to fresh, unfrozen water and adequate shelter when they’re outside.
  • A protective coat or sweater can provide extra protection during outdoor walks or potty breaks.
  • Snow and ice can do a number on your dog’s sensitive paw pads. Use booties or a protective balm to keep the pads from becoming dry and cracked.
  • Salt and chemical deicing agents can irritate a pet’s paws and are toxic if ingested, so be sure to wipe your pet’s paws and belly after being outside.
  • The cold is especially hard on older pets! Make sure seniors have warm, comfortable places to rest and that they’re eating a high-quality, life-stage appropriate diet.

Winter Grooming

Do you stop showering in the winter? Of course not! There’s no reason your pet’s grooming should take a back seat, either. Regular bathing and brushing helps remove loose fur, dirt, and dander. which can actually keep your pet warmer by allowing for proper air circulation and better blood flow to the skin.

Although you should never shave your dog’s fur during the winter, keeping their nails and the fur around the paw pads trimmed will help reduce the buildup of snow and ice between the toes, keeping the feet healthy and pain-free all winter long.

Beating the Blahs

Humans aren’t the only ones who suffer the effects of a long, dark winter. The winter blues can strike our furry family members as well, and it’s up to us to put the spring back in their step. Getting plenty of exercise can help mitigate the emotional and behavioral issues that might crop up during winter.

Try the following tips to keep your pet’s paws moving and their mood lifted:

  • Keep up with your dog’s daily walks as the weather allows.
  • Play fetch indoors (down the hallway or up/down the staircase).
  • Treat kitty to daily games of laser pointer, feather chase, or a DIY cat game.
  • Play hide-and-seek with toys or treats (both dogs and cats can play this game!).
  • Break out some pet-safe bubbles.
  • Work on your dog’s basic obedience training or try something different, such as indoor agility training.

For more information about winter pet care, please don’t hesitate to contact the team at Arlington Animal Hospital.