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How To Keep Pets Safe During Cold Weather

Even with an extra layer of fur, pets still get cold

Usually in Texas, pet owners worry about their animals overheating. But with freezing temperatures upon us, make sure you know how to keep your furry friends safe in the cold.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are several ways to keep pets safe during cold weather.

Know Their Limits

Like humans, pets vary in cold tolerance based on factors like coat thickness, body fat, activity levels and health. Elderly or arthritic pets may struggle on snow and ice, increasing slip and fall risks. While long-haired dogs cope better, they're not immune. Short-haired pets feel the cold faster, and short-legged ones cool faster on snow. Pets with health issues such as heart problems may struggle with temperature regulation. 

Keep Them Indoors

Despite a common misconception that their fur makes them more resistant to the cold than humans, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should not be left outside for extended periods. While longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies, may exhibit greater tolerance to cold weather, it's essential to prioritize their well-being and avoid prolonged exposure to below-freezing temperatures. Remember: if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for them.

Check Their Paws

Regularly inspect your dog's paws for indications of cold-weather injuries, such as cracked or bleeding paw pads. If your dog displays sudden lameness during a walk, it could be due to an injury or the accumulation of ice between their toes. To minimize the risk of iceball formation, consider trimming the hair between your dog's toes.

Wipe Them Off

While walking, your dog's feet, legs and belly may come into contact with de-icing products, antifreeze or other potentially toxic chemicals. Upon returning indoors, it is important to wipe down or wash your pet's feet, legs and belly to eliminate these substances. This helps reduce the risk of poisoning if your dog licks them off their feet or fur. Consider using pet-safe de-icers on your property to ensure the safety of your pets and those in your neighborhood.

Know The Signs

If your pet exhibits signs such as whining, shivering, anxiety, slowed or stopped movement, weakness or a search for warm places to burrow, take prompt action by bringing them inside as these are indicative of hypothermia. Detecting frostbite is more challenging, and the full extent of damage may not be apparent until a few days later. If you suspect your pet is experiencing hypothermia or frostbite, seek immediate advice from your veterinarian.

Keep Them Home

While hot cars are recognized as a danger to pets, cold cars also pose a significant risk to their health. In cold weather, a car can quickly cool down, acting like a refrigerator and chilling your pet rapidly. Young, old, ill or thin pets are especially vulnerable to cold environments and should never be left in cold cars. Restrict car travel to essential trips and avoid leaving your pet unattended in the vehicle. 

Dress Them Up

For dogs with short coats or discomfort in cold weather, try using a sweater or dog coat. Keep several on hand to ensure a dry option each time your dog goes outside, as wet ones can make your dog colder. If you opt for booties to protect their feet, ensure they fit properly.

Make Some Noise

When temperatures drop animals such as cats will try to find a place to stay warm and dry. Before starting your car engine, inspect underneath, tap the hood and honk the horn to prompt any fury hitchhikers to vacate their perch under the hood.