If you think winter weather is tough on you, imagine how your cat or dog must feel. Outdoor pets in cold-weather climes have to deal with below-freezing temperatures, wind chills, snow, sleet, ice, and de-icing agents containing harmful chemicals, often with no more protection than their natural coats. Some dogs have been bred to better withstand frigid temperatures, and many cats are adept at finding shelter when it’s freezing, but winter weather can ravage your pet’s health if you don’t take precautions. Preventive steps are more affordable — and often more humane — than remedies, so here are a few tips to keep your pets safe and healthy when cold weather arrives, thereby helping you to save on winter pet care.
Restrict their outdoor exposure. House-broken pets have obvious outdoor needs that must be met, but their frequent desire to wander idly through nature’s winter wonderland leaves them open to frostbite or worse. Give them the TLC they need by minimizing their time outside when it’s cold or stormy.
Provide the basic necessities. If your pets are natural outdoors types and simply refuse to be kept inside (or if you have feral furry friends), make sure they have access to a warm, sturdy shelter and a steady supply of food and (unfrozen) water whenever needed
Move cautiously. Snowy and icy sidewalks are dangerous to humans and pets alike, particularly older pets, who are often likely to slip and fall on slick terrain. Keep your pet on a tight leash when you’re walking in such conditions; take slow, careful steps; and don’t be afraid to cut the walk short if you and/or your pet can’t safely navigate the path.
Clean your pets as soon as they come inside. Thoroughly wipe down their paws and their undersides. Snow- and ice-melting products don’t just irritate paws; they can also cling to pets’ coats and harm their skin. Plus, when cats and dogs groom their paws, they can swallow de-icing salts, which can lead to mouth sores and/or internal damage. (You can also purchase pet booties that will help keep their paws clean, warm, and dry.)Keep an eye on your car. In cold weather, cats head for warmth, and few outdoor spots are as appealing as a warm automobile engine. Check under the car, tap on the hood, honk the horn, and take other precautions to prevent tragic, unintended consequences. Also, be sure to use non-toxic anti-freeze (propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol). Cats and dogs find anti-freeze delicious, but even small amounts can be fatal. (See a veterinarian immediately if your pet shows any signs of toxic poisoning.)
To many of us, pets are family members who deserve the same care and security that we provide other loved ones. A FreeShipping.com membership can help you save on a variety of winter pet care needs, with 5% cash back, free shipping, shipping and return shipping rebates, and other benefits at popular pet stores, including PetCareRx and more.