Despite chilly temperatures, you and your pet can still have a blast outdoors. Cold weather is no reason to stay inside until spring pops up, as keeping your furry friend safe and warm when playing outside is possible. If you can’t keep your pup from prancing excitedly in front of the door, no matter how low the temperatures dip, follow our eight tips to safely enjoy the great, albeit frozen, outdoors. 

#1: Know your pet’s cold tolerance

Although your four-legged friend wears a fur coat, she can still become chilled. Different pets, including same-breed pets, can have varying cold tolerances, and some may be able to stay outside longer than others before feeling frozen. But, keep a close eye on your pet to ensure she doesn’t play outside past her limit and especially note her paws, tail, nose, and ear tips, since they’re less protected, and prone to frostbite. 

#2: Check the weather before you and your pet head outdoors

If you’re planning on hiking a new snowy trail to enjoy the beautiful, frozen winter wonderland, check the forecast before heading out. Sleet, ice, and snow can sneak up in a hurry, putting you and your pet in danger. Temperatures may also suddenly drop drastically, and catch you off-guard and unprepared.

#3: Outfit your pet in appropriate winter clothing

Although many pets don’t appreciate being dressed up, cute outfits occasionally have some benefits. Vests, sweaters, and coats help trap body heat for both short- and long-haired pets, and some also serve as a waterproof barrier against melting snow or sleet. If your pet wears a sweater, check routinely for damp patches, as a wet garment can chill her. 

#4: Monitor your dog’s paws for problems

Your pup may run into trouble in the chilly outdoors by cutting her paws, sliding on slick surfaces, or suffering from ice-ball formation in her feet. Protect your dog’s paws with waterproof booties designed to grip icy surfaces and repel moisture, ensuring that her paws aren’t wrapped too tightly and  her circulation is not restricted.

#5: Remove any ice, salt, or chemicals from your pet’s fur

After sloshing through melting snow and slushy ice, your pet is likely covered in salt and other deicing products. As soon as you return home, wipe her down to remove hazardous chemicals and frigid snow and ice from her fur. Don’t forget to check the backs of your pet’s legs, tail, and paws for ice balls if she won’t tolerate booties. 

#6: Use pet-friendly ice-melting products around your home

Although you can’t spread pet-safe salt throughout your neighborhood, you can start the trend on your own patch of sidewalk. Use ice-melting products designed with pet safety in mind to protect your four-legged friend, and others who venture around your home. 

#7: Avoid frozen bodies of water

Nothing could be more terrifying than watching your pet crash through the ice, only to remain trapped in the frigid watery depths below. Avoid this nightmare by staying well away from bodies of water in the winter, regardless of how thickly frozen they look. It only takes one thin spot for a tragedy to occur.

#8: Keep an eye out for hypothermia signs in your pet

Despite bundling up your pet in appropriate cold-weather gear, she may still succumb to hypothermia. Watch for the following signs of low body temperature in your pet:

  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Shivering
  • Lack of alertness
  • Pale or blue gums
  • Decreased heart and respiratory rates
  • Fixed stare
  • Staggering
  • Coma

If your pet shows any signs of shivering or slowing down, bring her indoors immediately to begin warming up. Continue the warming process slowly, monitoring her body temperature to ensure it reaches an acceptable level. A pet’s normal temperature should be between 100 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a hair dryer on a warm, not hot, setting, warm water bottles, and layers of blankets to trap heat. Ensure that any blankets you use to cover your pet are not wet,  as this will suck away body heat. 

With all the winter fun you and your pet can have outdoors, don’t waste the season tucked away inside. Of course, call us immediately if you suspect your pet has hypothermia. Also, consider stopping by our office to stock up on parasite prevention to ensure your pet has one less possible outdoor peril this winter.