Winter Pet Care Tips

Yes, friends, winter is still here, so I thought I would share some tips advanced to us by our professional organization: NAPPS (National Association of Professional Pet Sitters). Many of these things you may already know but there are some things that may help to make your pet’s winter safer and more comfortable. Keeping pets warm, protecting paws, planning for those beloved power outages, and performing emergency CPR are a few tips listed here.

General Winter Pet Care:

  1. Cats and dogs (and other furry pets) should be brushed regularly because the air in a house becomes dry during the winter, depleting much-needed moisture from their skin. Well-groomed hair protects and insulates your pet’s body, keeping her warmer during the winter (and cooler during the summer).  Brushing also improves her circulation.
  2. Fatty acid supplements should be used in winter, ideally starting a few weeks before the cold weather starts, to help skin and coat stay healthy.
  3. If a dog or cat engages in a lot of outdoor winter activity, their food supply should be increased to keep them at a healthy weight.
  4. Keep a winter survival kit in your car in case of an emergency. Your kit should include blankets, towels, water and bowl, first aid kit, and a sign stating that a dog/cat is in the car. (This is a good idea in summer, too.)
  5. Never leave a dog or cat in the car alone during cold (or hot) weather. Cars act as refrigerators in the winter, cooling off rapidly and holding in the cold. An animal can freeze to death.
  6. Cats left outside (and wildlife) can climb onto car engines or beneath cars to seek warmth. Please, bang on the hood of your car before starting the engine to dispel any heat-seeking creatures.
  7. If you keep your pets in a basement, tiled, or uncarpeted room, please remember that these areas can get and stay cold. Additional bedding for these pets in winter would be a big comfort.
  8. Dryness in homes can cause dry nose, upper respiratory infections, dandruff, itchy skin and more.
    1. Use a humidifier with a purifier, if possible
    2. Add skin conditioners to your pet’s diet
    3. Spray or wipe the pet’s coat with a few drops of Rescue Remedy (such as Bach Flower Essence, found in most health food stores) just before grooming
    4. Make sure water bowls are always filled

Before, During, and after the Outdoors:

Keep an eye on your pet in the cold outdoors. Most dogs love to play in the snow outside and may push themselves beyond a reasonable limit.

  1. Short-haired, elderly, and smaller dogs benefit from wearing coats or sweaters and booties. A coat should cover the dog from the neck to the base of the tail (on top) and to the belly (below).
  2. Puppies do not tolerate cold as well as adults and may have a problem being housebroken in winter. Paper training may have to be your option until the weather warms up if they seem sensitive.
  3. Make sure the fur between your pet’s pads is kept trimmed to reduce the amount of snow collecting between their toes.
  4. Sensitive paws can be coated with cooking spray before walks in very cold weather to keep them from freezing.
  5. During deep snow, help your dog with a “potty spot” that you have dug out in the dog’s regular potty area.
  6. Wipe snow and ice off a dog’s belly, legs, and feet and remove ice from between their toes. This will help remove any salt and anti-freeze that dogs could then ingest when they lick themselves. You should do this for any outdoor cat as well (…if you dare). You can even have a foot bath ready with warm water or a damp wash cloth to rinse off a pet’s feet.
  7. ONLY USE ANTIFREEZE PRODUCTS CONTAINING PROPYLENE GLYCOL, NOT ETHYLENE GLYCOL!      Ethylene Glycol is highly toxic to all animals, and, because it smells and tastes great to them, they will try to lick it up.
  8. Dogs often lose their sense of smell in winter and can become more easily lost. More dogs are reported lost in winter than any other season, so please keep them either fenced in or on a leash and make sure they ALWAYS have proper identification tags.