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How to Keep Your Pet Warm in the Bitter Cold


Not many people like spending too much time outside when the weather gets colder. Unfortunately for our pet dogs, that happens to be where they have to use the bathroom. Plus, they need the space to get in plenty of walks and exercise. Those factors during the winter season can put outdoor animals at risk when icy temperatures hit. That’s why veterinarians always stress the importance of keeping your pets warm and safe. 

Puppy in the Snow

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

How to Keep Outdoor Pets Warm in the Winter

Although we’d like to think that our pets are invincible, they’re not immune to frostbite or hypothermia. Luckily, there are a few ways to keep your pooch safe in these frigid temperatures. 

“Dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia, just as people are, so use common sense as to how long your walks can be,” says Lauri-Jo Gamble, from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University. “Keep them short and watch for signs of hypothermia such as shivering, anxiety, and moving slowly.” Remember: If you’re cold, chances are good that your pooch is feeling the freeze just as much.

Winter Clothes for Dogs

We make sure to bundle up for winter, so why wouldn’t we do the same for our pets? According to Gamble, dogs also need cold-weather gear, such as booties and coats, especially if they don’t have much fur in their natural coat. 

If you’re unable to get your pup into those cute little booties, Gamble suggests shortening the hair between their paw pads; this will prevent those sticky and hard-to-reach ice balls from forming around their paws. Another great way to protect your dog’s paw pads from the ice is to apply paw balm ($12.99, Amazon) to the bottom of their pads before going outside. Once you’re back inside, just wipe their paws clean and reapply, and your pup should be good to go.

Is epsom salt safe for dogs?

You may have heard that epsom salt is a great way to alleviate swelling and itchy paws, but did you know epsom salt is poisonous for dogs if swallowed? In fact, salt and most de-icers can be toxic for pets. Keep your dog safe by avoiding sidewalks and roadways have been heavily coated with salt or chemicals. According to clinical toxicologist Rose Ann Gould Soloway, ice-melting chemicals can cause dryness and irritation of the paws or skin. If there’s no way to avoid walking over these chemicals, Soloway recommends wiping your pet’s paws and fur clean as soon as you’re inside. Be sure to remove any residue. If your dog begins drooling uncontrollably or vomiting, call the veterinarian immediately.

How to Keep Your Dog Active in the Winter

According to Gamble, four to five months of rest could weaken your dog’s muscles, which can set your pet up for an injury in the spring. To prevent this from happening, Gamble recommends encouraging your pet to engage in indoor activities, such as agility training, obedience lessons, or cart-pulling training

For more information on keeping your pet safe and healthy this winter, visit the ASPCA website.

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