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8 Ways to keep your pets safe this winter

8 Ways to keep your pets safe this winter

4 min read

By following these steps, you can ensure that your pets stay safe and snug throughout the winter season, allowing them to enjoy winter wonder without worry
As winter's chill wraps its icy embrace around us, it's crucial to remember that our furry companions need extra care and attention during this season. Pets may have a fur coat, but it is not always enough to protect them from the biting cold and potential hazards.
That's why we have rounded up eight ways to ensure your pets stay safe, warm and happy during the winter season. After all, our pets are more than just friends; they are family.

1. Cold weather gear

Dog on a walk in a jumper
Just as you bundle up in your cosy winter attire, your pet needs to stay warm too. Depending on your location and your pet's breed, consider investing in pet-appropriate cold-weather gear. This can include cosy jumpers, boots or even snowsuits. It's not just about fashion; these garments offer protection from the harsh winter elements, especially when you're going for walks. But remember, not all pets are keen on wearing clothing, so make it a gradual introduction and reward them with treats.
For dogs, particularly smaller or short-haired breeds, boots can be a saviour. They protect paws from ice, salt, and de-icing chemicals used on sidewalks and roads. These substances can be painful if they get lodged between their toes. Boots also provide added traction on slippery surfaces. If you've got a feline friend, there are cat sweaters and even heated cat beds available to keep them warm and toasty indoors.

2. Safe and toasty shelter

If your pet spends time outdoors, having a suitable shelter is crucial. Make sure your pet's living quarters are well-insulated, draft-free and elevated off the ground. Inside, provide soft, warm bedding like blankets or heated pet mats to keep them cosy. Outdoor pets should have access to shelter with enough room for them to stand, turn around and lie down comfortably.
Pay special attention to the shelter's entrance; it should be covered with waterproof fabric to prevent rain and snow from getting inside. Avoid using heating equipment that poses a fire hazard, such as space heaters, and opt for pet-safe heating pads instead. Also, never leave your pet unattended in an unheated car during winter—it can quickly become a freezing deathtrap.

3. Maintain a nutritious diet

Just as it's common for humans to pack on a few pounds during the winter, pets can also gain weight. It's essential to monitor their food intake and adjust it accordingly to avoid unnecessary weight gain. While it's okay to indulge them with the occasional holiday treat, be mindful of feeding them from the holiday table. Many human foods, such as chocolate and certain nuts, are toxic to pets.
"Many human foods, such as chocolate and certain nuts, are toxic to pets"
Moreover, hydration is crucial. In cold weather, pets may be less inclined to drink water, so ensure that they always have access to fresh water. Dehydration can be just as common in winter as it is in the summer. Consider feeding your pets warm food to provide extra nourishment during the chilly months.

4. Winter walk safety

A couple kneeling down to stroke their dog during a walk in the snow
Taking your pet for a winter walk can be a joy, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. Ice and snow can be treacherous for both you and your furry friend. Be cautious about slippery surfaces and sharp icicles that may pose risks.
Keep your dog on a leash during walks to avoid dangerous encounters with wildlife that might be seeking warmth or food. Also, make sure your pet has proper identification in case they get lost. Winter storms can disrupt your usual walking routes, and disorientation can lead to separation from your beloved companion.

5. Antifreeze alert

Antifreeze is a winter essential for our vehicles but a deadly hazard to pets. Even a small amount of this sweet-tasting liquid can be lethal if ingested. Be vigilant and clean up any antifreeze spills immediately. Opt for pet-safe antifreeze products that use propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol, which is highly toxic. Also, be cautious when your pet ventures near cars, as they might lick the undercarriage where antifreeze can accumulate.
"Check under your car and honk the horn to ensure your cat isn't hiding there before starting the engine"
Speaking of, pets, especially cats, may seek out warm car engines for shelter from the cold. Always check under your car and honk the horn or tap the bonnet to ensure your pet isn't hiding there before starting the engine. A little caution can prevent a tragic accident.

6. Grooming and fur maintenance

During the winter, many pets, especially those with longer fur, can develop matting and ice balls between their paw pads. Regular grooming helps prevent this issue. Brush your pet regularly to keep their coat clean, reduce shedding, and improve insulation. Trim the fur around their paw pads to minimise ice build-up.
While grooming, check for any signs of skin dryness or irritation, which can be exacerbated by indoor heating systems. A moisturising pet shampoo and conditioner can help maintain your pet's skin health.

7. Protect your pet's paws

Rock salt and de-icing chemicals are commonly used on roads and sidewalks during the winter, and they can be harmful to your pet. These substances can irritate their paws, or worse, be toxic if ingested.
"Rock salt and de-icing chemicals can irritate your pet's paws, or worse, be toxic if ingested"
To protect your pet's feet, use pet-safe salt or sand on your own property and avoid areas heavily treated with de-icers. After walks, wipe your pet's paws with a damp cloth or rinse them in warm water to remove any residue. You can also consider using pet-friendly paw balms to prevent dryness and cracking.

8. Safety around holiday decorations

Cat looking up at Christmas decorations
During the holiday season, many homes are adorned with festive decorations. While these add to the holiday spirit, they can pose risks to pets. Keep an eye on tinsel, which cats might find irresistible but can cause severe internal damage if ingested. Similarly, Christmas tree ornaments can be alluring but should be placed higher on the tree to avoid being knocked off and chewed.
Also, be cautious with holiday plants like poinsettias, holly and mistletoe, which can be toxic to pets. It's better to choose non-toxic alternatives to keep your home and your pets safe during the festivities.
Banner photo credit: roseclay

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