How to keep your pet safe in the cold

SPOKANE, Wash.– You’ve probably heard the saying “if you’re cold, they’re cold” when it comes to animals being out in the cold.

With the bitter cold hitting the Inland Northwest, it’s a good time to go over a few ways to make sure your four-legged friend is safe in winter weather.

Protecting their paws

Walks in the winter can be hard on your pup’s feet. Not only will the snow and ice on sidewalks make it hard for them to walk, but sidewalk salts and other de-icing chemicals can also cause problems. It can hurt their paws and if they lick it off it can make them sick.

Here’s what the Animal Humane Society says you can do to protect them:

  • Give them boots to wear. Yes– it will take some time for them to get used to their new footwear. Like winter boots for humans, they reduce how much contact your pet’s feet have with the ground.
  • Keep their paws moisturized. Coat your dog’s feet with paw balm or petroleum jelly-based products before walks. That does a few things: It creates a little barrier between their paws and the ground and it keeps their paw pads hydrated. You will want to make sure you have a towel handy to wipe it off once you’re back inside.
  • Shovel a path. For quick potty breaks outside, you can make a little path for your dog so they don’t have to walk over ice and snow when they’re out doing their business. The Animal Humane Society says covering that path with straw is even better for their paws since it will help keep snow off the paws.
  • Limit walk time. If you’re in a coat, hat, gloves and still feeling the cold, it’s probably time to head back. The exact amount of time that’s right for your dog can differ from breed to breed, but it’s a safe pet to limit walk time.

More safety tips

The ASPCA has more on keeping your pets safe in the cold.

  • Feed your pets a little extra during the cold months. ASPCA says pets burn extra energy to stay warm in the wintertime so more food can provide them with the much-needed calories they need. Make sure their water is also topped off to keep them hydrated.
  • Bathe your pets as little as possible. Washing your four-legged friend too much when it’s cold can remove essential oils and increase the chance of developing dry, flaky skin.
  • Towel dry them as soon as they’re inside if they’re wet.

You can find more tips on the ASPCA website.

Editors’ note: This story was originally published in Dec. 2021. 

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