With this snowy spell having hit us recently, we thought it would be a good time to review some winter safety tips!
- Be mindful of the temperature outside and how long they are outdoors: If it is too cold for you to stay outside, it is too cold for your pet. Some breeds can withstand colder temperatures, however, always be mindful of a) how long they are outside; b) the wind-chill (as this makes the temperature feel colder, and thus reduce the time they can safely be outside); and c) the formation of ice/snow clumps on their fur and between their paw pads. Furthermore, pets should always have access to warm housing.
- Dress for the weather: Use booties and winter sweaters to help keep your pets warm during outdoor excursions, especially if your pet is a short-haired breed.
- Never leave your pet alone in a cold car: Cars can overheat quite quickly in the summer, and get quite cold in the winter. Pets left in cars in cold temperatures can find themselves in significant danger, as they have no means to remove themselves from the vehicle and the cold can decrease their body temperature to unhealthy levels.
- Store, and use, antifreeze in a safe manner: Antifreeze, commonly used to maintain the temperature of key components of your car, contains ethylene glycol, which can be fatal if ingested. Ensure to keep animals away from winter puddles, as they may contain spilled or leaked antifreeze, and store any containers of antifreeze out of reach of your pets.
- Keep your pets safe around bodies of water: Melting ice and rising water levels can make lakes dangerous for you and your pet. Always check the depth of the ice (and the presence of black ice) before venturing out, and keep your pets close, so they don’t wander too close to any dangerous areas. The banks of lakes will often have thinner ice pockets. Rivers can be very dangerous as the ice doesn’t get thick enough to safely stand on.
- Wipe your pet’s paws and underside after being outside: Salt and ice melt can irritate and burn, as well as also be fatal if ingested.
- Be aware of cats seeking warmth under vehicle hoods: Try knocking on the hood of your car to scare them away before starting the engine.
- Don’t let your dog off leash especially during a snowstorm: If you do find yourself outside with your pet when a snowstorm hits, ensure they are leashed and stick close to you. In a snowstorm, they can easily lose their scent and get lost, if loose.
- Provide a warm place to sleep: Ensure your pet has a thick cozy bed or blanket away from any drafts and off the cold floor.
- Prepare an emergency pet survival kit: You never know when a storm might keep you from being able to leave the house for extended periods. Ensure to include items to keep your pets safe.
– Special thanks to OSPCA for their helpful winter safety tips!