It may be February, but the cold weather season is not yet over for Upstate South Carolina. As we look at another month or two of cold temperatures, ice and possibly snow, it’s important to know some tips to keep your pets healthy and happy in winter weather.
Three Steps to Keep Pets Healthy in Winter
Step 1: Be Prepared
The best way to keep pets healthy in winter is to prepare for the cold.
- Make an emergency kit or put aside a few products in case power goes out for an extended period of time or the pipes freeze (e.g., clean water, a blanket, extra food).
- Make a warm, safe place for outdoor pets to be able to sleep indoors. Even pets who usually spend nights outside should be brought inside during extreme cold (usually that means below 32 degrees; this chart can help you decide).
- If your pets spend some time outdoors, check to make sure their water bowl isn’t frozen over.
- Buy a sweater, coat or booties for dogs who may be sensitive to the cold, and put it on your dog every time you go outside.
Step 2: Be Flexible
Routines have to change when temperatures plummet or winter storms come in.
- Take shorter walks. Odds are your dog doesn’t want to be outside any more than you do, so she will likely do her business quickly. Find indoor ways to get exercise since walks won’t be as long.
- Add a wipe-down routine after walks: remove ice, snow or wetness from pets’ paws, legs and bellies after each time they go outside. Check their paws for signs of irritation or injury (call the vet if you see anything).
- Don’t take your pets on many car rides. Leaving a pet in a cold car can be dangerous; it’s safer to leave them at home.
Step 3: Take Caution
A few extra cautionary steps can prevent injury or poisoning this time of year.
- Check your car for pets who may be curled up inside. Before you turn on the engine and risk hurting a neighborhood cat who was seeking warmth, walk around your car to check for animals and honk the horn before turning the ignition.
- Clean up any leaked antifreeze immediately.
- If you have to de-ice your car, use pet safe products (look for salt-free, chloride-free products that don’t have warning labels).
- Avoid walking by or playing around frozen lakes or streams.
If your pets show signs of trauma from the cold, like constant shivering or extreme lethargy, contact Animal Clinic of Woodruff immediately.
Please take a few of these steps to keep your pets healthy and happy this season.