Healthy Family | Home Safety | Health and Wealth | Relationship Issues | Career Advice | Growing Family
Get the SixWise e-Newsletter FREE!
Google Web
Free Newsletter Subscription
Get the Web's Most trusted & Informative Health, Wealth, Safety & More Newsletter -- FREE!


Share Email to a Friend Print This

Winter Dangers to Your Pet: Don't Let Fido and Fifi Freeze!

While it is second nature in people to bundle up in coat, hat and gloves when cold weather hits, many people overlook the fact that their pets require extra care, too, during winter.

If you belong to the 39 percent of U.S. households with a dog or the 34 percent with a cat -- or if you own a more exotic pet like a potbelly pig, rabbit or ferret -- be aware of the following potential winter dangers. This will help keep your pet safe in the short-term, and help them live a longer, healthier life overall.

Don't Leave Your Pet Out in the Cold
The amount of time your pet should spend outdoors on frigid days depends on their breed. While some dogs like St. Bernard's and Huskies and some longhair cats are bred for cold weather, others, like Grey Hounds and shorthair cats, are not.

Cats and dogs that are shorthaired, warm-weather animals should only be outside long enough to relieve themselves on cold winter days and nights.

Dogs and cats, America's
favorite pets, do have some built-in
precautions against the cold (their
fur, for one), but by no means does
that make them immune to the winter
weather and it's related stresses.

If your pet is left outside unprotected in ice, snow and freezing temperatures, it is vulnerable to the same risks as humans left outside in the cold:
  • Hypothermia: This occurs when your pet's body temperature falls below normal. Symptoms include shivering, depression, lethargy, muscle stiffness, slowed breathing and heart rate and being unresponsive to stimuli.

Pets should be immediately wrapped in blankets (electric blankets if possible) with a hot water bottle and taken to the veterinarian if they show signs of hypothermia.

  • Frostbite: Like humans, if your pet gets cold enough, its body will pull blood from the limbs in order to keep the center of the body warm. Your pet's tail, ears, and paws are then vulnerable to ice crystals that can form and damage the tissues.

If you suspect frostbite -- your pet may whine or look for warm places to burrow in -- find the suspected frostbitten areas and soak them in lukewarm (not hot!) water for about 20 minutes. DO NOT rub the tissue, as this can cause further damage. Then wrap your pet in blankets and get them to the veterinarian.

Winter Precautions if You MUST Leave Your Pet Outside

  • Make sure your pet has a warm, dry place to escape the elements

  • Provide thick bedding and a hot water bottle for warmth

  • Be sure there is a source of fresh water that will not freeze

  • Feed them smaller portions more often throughout the day

  • Make sure your pet stays dry, including free of snow

  • Cats will curl up under car hoods on car engines to keep warm. If you know you have pet cats or stray cats in your area, it is always a good idea to check under your hood and car (or at least bang the hood of the car to check) before driving

Hidden Winter Toxins, Chemicals and Gases

The winter season brings with it a unique set of risks from de-icing chemicals, salts and carbon monoxide leaking from furnaces (a major risk for humans too). Watch out for these risky chemicals, and keep your pets clear of them:

Rock Salt and Chemical Ice Melters: These can irritate paws and cause digestive problems if ingested.

Carbon Monoxide: Carbon monoxide is an odorless, invisible gas that can leak from furnaces that are used constantly in the winter. Since pets often spend even more time in homes than their owners, they are particularly vulnerable to poisoning. This is why strongly recommends, for your pet's sake and your own, investing in a high quality, reliable carbon monoxide detector.

After research and careful review, by far the most highly rated line of carbon dioxide detectors we found are those by Kidde Nighthawk, and one that is particularly recommended is the Kidde Knighthawk Carbon Monoxide Alarm Kopp-3. This alarm plugs into any standard wall outlet and offers superior protection against carbon monoxide.

A carbon monoxide alarm is a safety
"must" for every home to protect you,
your family and your pets! This UL
approved Kidde Knighthawk Carbon
Monoxide Alarm is the top-rated alarm
and a great value ... read more now!

Antifreeze, Oil, Household Cleaners: Commonly used cleaners and antifreezes can be deadly to your pet. Antifreeze is particularly alluring to pets because of its sweet taste. According to Janet Tobiassen Crosby, DVM, a safe alternative to the commonly used Ethylene Glycol antifreeze for your automobile is propylene glycol. Though it is a bit more expensive, it's worth the piece of mind, Crosby says.

Mothballs: When you take your sweaters out of the closet, be sure your pets don't eat these preservatives that can pose health risks.

Winter Houseplants: Christmas rose, holly, mistletoe, philodendron, dieffenbachia, American bittersweet, Jerusalem cherry and others can be toxic to your pet.

A Few Final Tips for Your Winter Pet
  • Consider buying a sweater or booties for your pet, especially those shorthair and smaller breeds that are most vulnerable. Check out this warm and very cute two-tone parka for dogs!

  • Elderly, ill and young pets (as with humans) are particularly vulnerable to the cold

  • If you have guests over for the holidays be sure to introduce your pet to each one so it doesn't feel overwhelmed
  • Watch out for ice that your pet could slip on
  • Keep holiday treats like alcohol and chocolate out of pets' reach

  • An overall rule-of-thumb- If you're cold and want to go inside, chances are your pet does too!

Dog parkas can keep your
pet warm and dry on cold
winter days. Especially recommended
for shorthair breeds.
Read More Now!


Lookout for Winter Dangers to Your Pet

The Humane Society of the United States

Holiday Dangers for Pets

Winter Weather Hazards for Pets

To get more information about this and other highly important topics, sign up for your free subscription to our weekly "Be Safe, Live Long & Prosper" e-newsletter.

With every issue of the free newsletter, you’ll get access to the insights, products, services, and more that can truly improve your well-being, peace of mind, and therefore your life!

Share Email to a Friend Print This