Seasonal Care

Winter Pet Safety 101

Cat Jumping Snow

Winter is the time to sled and build snowmen during the day and snuggle by the fire at night. But winter fun presents some unique challenges for Fido and Fluffy. In areas that get cold and snowy, temperatures can get downright dangerous for pets, especially for those who aren't built for the cold. What's more, a number of common cold-weather products can be potentially poisonous. Here are a few tips to help keep the colder months safe for everyone:

  • Keep an eye out for automotive fluid – Both antifreeze and windshield washer fluid are hazardous to animals. Steer clear of puddles of antifreeze and washer fluid while walking your pooch, and keep pets out of garages and other automotive areas. The ASPCA recommends using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.

  • Wipe de-icing products off paws – Ice-melting products can get stuck in your pet's paws and then they may try licking it to remove it. Paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice. If you walk your dog on de-iced roads or sidewalks, make sure he wears booties. And wipe off Fido and Fluffy's paws, legs and stomach when they come in out of the cold.

  • Be wary of rodent poison – If you live in a rural or semi-rural area, you may see more mice move in when the temperature drops. You or your neighbors may be tempted to rid yourself of these pests with rodent poison. Unfortunately pets sometimes eat the poison. If you exterminate rodents, use humane and safe traps rather than poisons. When letting Fido loose in a fenced-in yard, check the area for rodents before letting him out, and try to keep Fluffy inside for the winter.

  • Be prepared to act fast – If you think your pet has swallowed something toxic, call the veterinarian.

  • Watch the temperature – Cats and short-coated dogs don't fare well in frigid temperatures, and even furrier breeds like Huskies and Malamutes can experience problems without adequate shelter. When the nights get cold and snowy, bring pets inside and make sure working dogs have a good doghouse with warm bedding, like straw or woodchips. Indoor pets should sleep off the floor and away from drafts on a dog or cat bed with a warm blanket, according to the ASPCA. Though frostbite and hypothermia is more rare in dogs than in humans, it can happen.

  • Keep cats away from your car – Cats love warmth, so after you park the car, the heat from the engine can entice even the wariest of felines. Once under the hood, your cat could be seriously hurt the next time you start your engine. Keep Fluffy inside, and bang on the hood and honk your horn before starting your engine.

With a few simple precautions, the winter can be a favorite time of year for both you and your pet. So grab a warm blanket, curl up by the fire and enjoy getting cozy indoors with Fluffy and Fido.