The combination of cold temperatures and falling weather can make winter a tricky time for your pet.  Here are a few tips that can help reduce the risk for your pet when that winter weather sets in.

- Schedule a Check-up:  If you have older pets with health concerns, we recommend a check-up with your vets.  Cold weather can be taxing on your pet’s cardiovascular system and can also lead to increased pain and stiffness if your pet suffers from arthritis.  Your vet will be able to assess any risk to your pet’s health and provide you with a plan of action.

- Keep Them Indoors:  If your pet normally stays outside, bring them inside during the cold winter weather.  If that isn’t an option, make sure they have a warm and dry shelter with a covering of insulation for the floor area.  Also, do frequent checks on their water and food to make sure their food hasn’t become wet and contaminated.  Water should be checked several times per day to make sure it has not frozen over.  A block of ice is NOT a suitable substitute for water.

- Protect Those Paws:  Winter weather can create lots of hazards for your pet’s paws.  Make sure you keep a towel on hand for cleaning your pet’s paws after he has spent some time outside.  If there are any contaminants such as ice melt or road salt, you should clean your pets’ paws with warm water and check for any cracks in the paw.  

- Invest in a Humidifier:  Your home heating system can reduce the humidity in your home.  This can dry out your pet’s skin (and yours).  Dry skin is often itchy skin so do your pet and you a favor and invest in a humidifier for winter weather.

- Feeding:  If your pet spends a lot of time outside, it’s OK to feed him a little more during the cold winter months.  Keeping warm burns more energy so that extra food will help keep your pet warm.  Your veterinarian will be happy to advise you on the proper amount of food for your pet during the winter months.

- Have An Emergency Plan:  It’s always a good idea to have an emergency plan in case of power outages or just being stuck at home during a major winter storm.  Include provisions for your pet in your emergency plan.  Make sure you have plenty of pet food, water, warm blankets, and flashlights for those nighttime walks.  If your pet is on any kind of medication, make sure you always have an adequate supply on hand.  If your home uses gas heat or gas space heaters, make sure you have CO2 detectors to protect both you and your pet from CO2 poisoning.

As we said at the beginning of this article, winter weather can pose a number of risks for your pet.  With a little planning and preparation, and by following the tips above you can keep your pet safe and healthy during this winter season.  


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