Winter is coming (cue the Game of Thrones theme song) and it’s going to be a rude awakening for both you...and your pet. Just because they have a fur coat, doesn't mean they stay nice and snug throughout the winter. Frostbite, deadly antifreeze, discomfort, and toxic holiday treats come with the season, leaving pet owners worried and overwhelmed. How can we make sure our four-legged friends are safe, protected, and cozy all winter long? Here’s a personal guide I put together while doing my own research to prep for the upcoming season.
For me, having two huskies at home means winter is full of energy, happy pups, and sled dog races. However, this also means I need to take a lot of precautions and educate myself on the dangerous side of winter. Additionally, because my girls are puppies, there's more risks that come with that. This blog, while I'll admit, was not only a great way for me to show off my dogs, but allowed me to connect with you on something we can all relate to in one way or another. I hope this blog helps you and leaves you with some new tips for you to use this winter! Enjoy!
Here are my girls, Kira and Koda. The inspiration behind this blog.
Dressing Your Pet For Winter
Sweaters and coats on your cat isn't the best idea. It can actually irritate them more than the cold itself, so save the pet clothes for you pup.
This doesn't mean put a cute sweater on your dog and throw them outside. Susan G. Wynn, a veterinary nutritionist in Georgia says, "Not only does your pet risk frostbite and other danger if his canine clothes get wet, he may try to get out of the sweater or coat and get caught in a way that makes suffocation a risk." So remember, monitoring your dog in the winter is even more crucial when they're wearing pet gear.
Let's talk about those cute dog boots. Snow can easily freeze on your pet's paws causing a world of problems. Salted sidewalks can also burn their pads. Be alert when walking your dog on certain paths and stay clear of heavily salted areas. Dog boots can really come in handy, especially for these reasons.
Dog boot tips:
- Before forcing your dog to wear booties, start putting socks on their feet before the season hits. This will get them used to the feeling...so they don't freak out when a boot gets strapped to them.
- If your dog's boots are too tight, this can cut off their circulation making them more prone to frostbite. Make sure they're secure, but not too tight.
Old vs. Young Pets
Puppies, kittens, and older pets don't have the fat, metabolism, or full coat they need to properly protect themselves against the cold. They shouldn't be left outside no matter how much you layer them up. Keep the outside for quick potty breaks only.
For me, even though huskies are a bit different, my girls are still puppies. Just because their bodies are built for cold weather, doesn't mean I can disregard this rule. I still need to be extremely aware of how long I'm keeping them outside for, especially my smallest one, Koda.
Antifreeze attracts pets because it's really sweet to the taste. However, it's highly poisonous and can kill them if they're not treated almost immediately after ingesting it. They can get poisoned just by walking through it and licking their paws a few hours later.
If you think your animal has ingested even the smallest amount of antifreeze, don't hesitate. Call your vet immediately!
When we (humans) go for a run at night without any reflective gear, we're incredibly hard to see. The same goes for pets. When you take your animal out for a walk, especially with winter causing it to get dark a lot earlier, make sure both you and your animal have reflective gear on.
We recommend reflective collars and leashes. You can even get LED lights in them to insure oncoming traffic spots you!
Toxic Holiday Treats
We're all excited for the upcoming holiday season...I mean, duh. Good food and holiday cheer are everywhere. While it's awesome for us, it's not so awesome for our pets. Chocolate, plants, holly berries, holly berry leaves, and tinsel are all potentially toxic, so make sure you stay hyper alert when your pet is in reach.
Save the Animal Poison Control Center number in your phone (or at least take a picture of it) for good measure: (888) 426-4435
Freezing Potty Breaks
Depending on how deep the snow is, our pets can get fussy about going outside. WebMD pet message board members shed some light on how to encourage pets to go potty outside in these conditions:
- Shovel it. Keep a small area in the yard shoveled clear of snow; or at least be sure the snow is only an inch or two deep.
- Buy booties if your dog is bothered by the snow or ice touching their feet.
- Stay close. When it's really cold out, wait by the door while your pet goes potty. Let them back in as soon as they're done.
- Make an indoor potty:
- Pet pee pads resemble a flat, unfolded diaper and are an especially effective option for small, older, or sick dogs.
- Indoor pee patches consist of swathes of fake grass topping a broad, hollow tray where urine collects.
- Smaller dogs can be litter box-trained; even mature dogs can be taught to use a box inside.
Hypothermia and Frostbite
Our pets have an average body temperature of 101°F and 102.5°F. When they stay outside for too long, there body temperature can drop to severely low numbers. Here are symptoms and treatments for both hypothermia and frostbite.
- Violent shivering, followed by listlessness
- Weak pulse
- Muscle stiffness
- Problems breathing
- Lack of appetite
- Rectal temperature below 98°F
- Cardiac arrest
- Wrap your pet in a warm blanket or coat (you can warm blankets and coats in the dryer for a few minutes).
- Bring your pet into a warm room.
- Give your pet a solution of four teaspoons honey or sugar dissolved in warm water to drink. You can also put 1-2 teaspoons of corn syrup on the gums if your pet is too weak to drink. This provides an immediate energy boost.
- Place warm, towel-wrapped water bottles against your pet's abdomen or at her armpits and chest, then wrap her in a blanket. Do not use hair dryers, heating pads, or electric blankets to warm up a hypothermic pet as this may result in burns or cause surface blood vessels to dilate, which compromises circulation to vital organs.
- Call your veterinarian immediately.
We LOVE Your Pets!
Did you know our apartments are pet friendly? You did? Well, did you know a lot of our buildings have pet spas, pet grooming stations, and pet friendly events?
Not only is our office very, very, very dog friendly, but many of our residents travel with their pets, too! Having the ability to bring their animal wherever they stay is more of a necessity these days, rather than a luxury. Because of this, pet friendly buildings are a go-to standard when deciding where to expand our inventory.
The Harlo's Pet Spa
Photos: Tamara Flanagan Photography
DO YOU TRAVEL TO SEE FAMILY DURING THE HOLIDAYS?
Make sure to read our "Tips and Tricks on Traveling with Pets" blog so you don't have to leave your fur baby behind this year!
Are You A Part Of #GivingTuesday?
Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. Join the movement and give - whether it’s some of your time, a donation, or the power of your voice in your local community.
Compass is donating to our Room To Heal fund for Boston Children's Hospital. Click below to join the movement!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hey, guys! It's Maddy, the Content Creator at Compass. With two crazy huskies at home, winter is always...energetic. Knowing a lot of our residents have pets, too, I decided to share my findings on winter safety. Hope you enjoyed!
Find me here on Linkedin, I'd love to connect.