Be aware of your pet’s limitations: Ice, snow, and cold temperatures can cause your pets discomfort or lead to an accident. Pay close attention to your pets if they are prone to health issues, are very young or very old, or are more susceptible to the elements with short hair or little legs that put them closer to the ground.
Make sure your pets have a warm, dry place to go: Pets can face many of the same health issues as people when left in cold temperatures without protection. It’s important to limit their time facing the elements with a warm, dry environment and, at least thick bedding and non-frozen water.
Be aware of snow removal chemicals: Antifreeze and other chemicals your pets may pick up on their fur can be dangerous. Make sure to wipe your pets down after walks and any other time they may be exposed before they have the chance to lick these chemicals off, and do not let them have access to consume any amount of antifreeze at any point.
Check paws: Snow and ice can pack into paw beds quickly and in between toes, making it painful for pets to walk. The harsh elements can also cause cracking or bleeding on paw pads. Consider clipping the hair between your pet’s toes and checking for injuries regularly to keep your pet’s walking comfortably.
Keep an eye out for problems: Whining, shivering, anxious behavior, slow or no movement, weakness, and looking for warm places to hide are signs it’s too cold out for your pet and they need to come inside immediately. Call your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pets are suffering from hypothermia or frostbite.
Feeding: It can cause health issues if pets gain extra weight during the winter months, but active animals may need to consume more calories to keep them healthy when it’s cold outside. Consult your veterinarian about your pet’s cold weather nutritional needs.
Beware cold vehicles: Similar to hot cars in the summer, it’s dangerous to leave pets unattended in cold cars. Be especially aware of vulnerable pets that are young, old, or particularly thin because the car can act like a refrigerator, cooling down very quickly.
Consider winter outfits: Pets that are particularly bothered by cold weather may benefit from a coat, dry sweater, and/or booties for some extra protection against the elements. Make sure anything your pet wears is clean, dry, and fits properly.
Check under your vehicles: Cats and other pets may look for shelter in or near a warm vehicle, so make sure you don’t have any extra passengers before you start the vehicle by making noise and checking key areas like the tires and under the hood.
Be prepared: Severe winter weather can cause power outages or prevent you from leaving your house for a few days. Make sure you have plenty of food, water, and medicine for each of your family members, including your pets and livestock, for at least five days.
Consider a check-up: Some health issues are not improved by cold weather, so consider making an appointment to discuss any concerns you have for your pet before the long winter season comes.
Identification tags and microchips: Pets can slip out and get lost easily during the hustle and bustle of the winter season. Make sure your pets have their tags and/or microchips so they can make it home safely and quickly.
Beware dangerous decorations: Wires, batteries, breakable objects, and anything else your pets may think is a snack or toy just for them may lead to a holiday injury. Keep your pets in mind when decorating to avoid any accidents.
Secure your tree: Make sure your tree is anchored and its water is out of reach of your pets to ensure no one ends up sick or injured this holiday season.
Avoid some holiday plants: Holly, mistletoe, lilies, amaryllis, and other holiday plants can be toxic to your pets, so it might be a good idea to skip some of these decorations this year.
Watch out for open flames: Never leave your pets unattended with lit candles, wax warmers, and other potentially dangerous decorations.
Food: Chocolate, grapes/raisins, xylitol, onions, yeast doughs, cocktails, and other traditional holiday foods are toxic to your pets, and other foods can be just as dangerous if a bone becomes lodged or if eaten in excess. Make sure all trash and food are out of your pet’s reach to avoid an accident.
Prep for travel: Make sure you consult your veterinarian about any interstate or airline travel requirements and don’t forget to pack all your pet’s essentials, including medical records, food, water, and medications.
Boarding: Your pet needs to be up-to-date on all their vaccines for any boarding facility, and make sure to inform the organization of any health concerns they should be aware of to ensure your pet has the best boarding experience possible.
Drugs or Prescriptions: Keep any drugs or prescriptions out of reach of pets to avoid potentially serious issues. If your pet does come into contact with a drug or prescription they shouldn’t have, inform your veterinarian immediately, regardless of the legal status of the drug consumed, for the safety of your pet.