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A Member of the Family: Protecting Your Pet this Winter

Pet owners are as susceptible as anyone to misconceptions about a dog or cat’s adaptability to cold winter weather. People who leave their pet out in freezing temperatures for extended periods mistakenly

believe that their thick coat of fur is enough to see them through the coldest weather.

Actually, dogs and cats are as prone to the dangers of exposure as humans and, as a rule, should be treated the same. Trust your instincts and your familiarity with your furry friend when it’s dangerously cold. If he’s shivering, you should bring your furry friend inside right away. If the thermostat dips below freezing, or if it’s snowing or sleeting, use common sense and keep your pet dry and warm. Be prepared by protecting your pet from the elements when your dog goes outside to relieve itself, or when the two of you go for a walk. After all, your dog or cat is a member of the family.

Small doses

Use common sense when it comes to the outdoors during winter. In general, the less time your dog spends out in the cold, the better. Bear in mind that frostbite and hypothermia are as dangerous to animals as they are to humans and it doesn’t take long for the effects to show, especially in cold climates. Taking your dog out for some playtime in the yard or a stroll around the neighborhood is different from leaving him chained up out back when the wind chill dips into the single digits. Here’s a good rule of thumb: When you get too cold, assume your pet is, too.

Elder pet care

Older dogs and cats need special care during the winter. Cats and dogs have higher resting body temps and need a blanket in their bed during colder months. Also, dress your dog in a sweater when taking your best friend to potty outside.

Dry doggie skin

Pets are affected by dry, winter air just as people are. Dry skin can become a real problem for a dog if left untreated. Your pet’s skin needs regular moisturizing under such circumstances. Use a moisturizer that’s predominantly composed of natural ingredients, such as coconut oil and be sure to apply it on a regular basis to prevent flaking and irritation. Don’t forget to moisturize the paws as well, which can be aggravated by exposure to snow, ice and salt. Be sure to wipe off your dog’s paws after every walk. If dryness and cracking persist, consider getting dog booties.


Antifreeze is a common hazard during the winter months, especially when it leaks onto the driveway or garage floor. Antifreeze tastes sweet to dogs and cats, but it’s a dangerous poison that harms as many as 90,000 animals every year. Keep an eye on your pet when it’s outside and don’t let your four-legged animal run around unsupervised. And don’t forget that chocolate is also toxic to dogs, so be careful to keep those leftover goodies from Christmas and Valentine’s Day put safely away and out of reach.

Snow and ice mishaps

When you’re removing snow from your driveway and sidewalks, be careful not to pile it up against a fence your dog may be able to climb or jump over. Falling ice and snow can also be dangerous to your pet, so make sure to knock down any hanging icicle and try to keep the roof clear of a large build-ups of snow, which become heavy as it begins to melt and slide off. If you and your pooch like to go for walks in the woods and fields, beware of ice-covered ponds or streams. Ice that looks plenty thick may be dangerously thin in spots and may easily give way under your weight.

Treat your dog as you would any other member of your family this winter. Keep him safe and warm and watch for symptoms of dry skin or hypothermia. A little extra care can head off an unpleasant outcome of exposure to the cold.

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