Shorter days, holiday celebrations, and cold, wet weather can all pose challenges for pets, but keeping your companion safe, healthy and comfortable during the winter season just takes a little bit of planning. These winter safety tips can help you both prepare for the dropping temperatures.
Winter Safety Tips for Pets
(1) Wipe your pet’s paws and belly when they come in from outside. In addition to drying it off, this will remove ice, salt, and other chemicals that might have been on paths and roadways. Carefully check between paw pads for compacted snow – this can turn into irritating or painful ice balls stuck to their fur.
(2) As the weather gets colder, make sure your pet has a cozy place to curl up off the cold floor and away from drafts – a thick cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect. If you can offer them a choice of resting places closer and further from the heat, even better!
(3) Some popular holiday plants can be toxic to pets. Keep them away from mistletoe, holly, poinsettias, lilies, and amaryllis – if ingested, these plants may cause vomiting, diarrhea, and even kidney failure. If your pet has eaten anything you’re unsure about, don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian.
(4) Colder days sometimes mean power outages or stormy weather. When you’re stocking up on emergency supplies for your family or a survival kit for your car, don’t forget about your four-legged friends! Including a pet emergency kit with items like an extra supply of pet food (and can opener!), towels and blankets, leash or harness, flashlight, and a copy of their medical records is a great start.
(5) Keep curious pets in mind when choosing your Christmas decor. Make sure the tree is secure in its stand, low-hanging ornaments are shatter-proof, and cords are kept out of reach of teeth and claws. Particularly avoid using tinsel – cats love this sparkly ‘toy,’ but swallowing a few strands can be the path to serious injury, an obstructed digestive tract, and expensive surgery.
(6) Your pets can get dry, flaky skin in the winter too! Help stave off the flakes by using a humidifier and providing plenty of drinking water, bathing your pet less frequently and making sure they’re completely dry after baths or excursions in the rain. A little extra brushing can stimulate blood circulation and improve skin condition, as well as a boost of dietary or topical skin-supporting omega oils (we can help you choose one!).
(7) Keeping pets and holiday treats separate is a constant project and probably requires the whole family to pitch in. Especially keep an eye on gifts under the tree if you’re not sure what’s inside – your pup might just open that delicious box of candies or chocolates before you do!
(8) This is an important time of year to make sure that your pet is wearing adequate identification tags, and their microchip information is up to date. With more frequent comings-and-goings during the holiday season, it can be easy for pets to slip out of the house amidst the chaos.
(9) When you’re making your pet’s Christmas Wish List, select stocking stuffers like indestructible toys (Kongs can be stuffed with healthy treats!) or easily-digestible chews. Avoid cat toys that feature long ribbon, yarn, or loose fixings that can be swallowed and become stuck – a ball that’s too big to swallow or a stuffed catnip toy are better options.
(10) When the weather gets chilly, we quickly boost our array of home heating sources. Keep an eye on pets around crackling fires, stoves, radiators, and candles. Never leave them alone around open flames, and make sure that wherever possible sources of heat are kept out of reach or at a safe distance.
(11) Frozen ice or melting snow can be an extra danger for your pet – thin ice may not hold their weight, and puddles or run-off can contain ethylene glycol (found in antifreeze) or other harmful chemicals. To stay extra-safe, try to avoid winter puddles and snow-melt when you’re out with your pet.
(12) As you make your New Year’s Eve plans, consider how best to keep your pets safe and comfy all night long. Strings of confetti can pose a risk if ingested, and noisemakers and poppers can be quite frightening – not to mention the noise of firework displays. A good plan is to secure your pets in a safe, escape-proof area for the evening, with some mellow music playing at a good volume if they’re nervous of New Year’s noise.