The Guide Dog Foundation Shares Winter Care Tips from to Keep Your Pet Safe During the Winter Months 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Smithtown, NY – We’ve already experienced the first snowstorm of the New Year, and with record cold temperatures in the next few days, now is the time to plan accordingly for the harsh winter weather. The snow and cold aren’t just harmful to people, they can also be hazardous for your pets. The Guide Dog Foundation recommends the following tips to keep your pets safe.

Cold Weather Tips: 

  • Don't leave your pet outside in the cold for long periods of time. Be attentive to your pet's body temperature, and limit its time outdoors. Cats and dogs may have fur coats but they aren’t equipped to be out in freezing temperatures for long periods of time.
  • Keep your pet warm, dry and away from drafts. Tiles and uncarpeted areas may become extremely cold, so make sure to place blankets and pads on floors in these areas.
  • Your pet needs a well-groomed coat to keep properly insulated. Short- or coarse-haired animals may get extra cold, so consider a sweater or coat as long as it does not impede the use of a collar or leash. Long-haired animals should have excess hair around the toes and foot pads trimmed to ease snow removal and cleaning. 
  • Towel or blow-dry your pet if it gets wet from rain or snow. It is important to clean and dry its paws, too. This helps avoid tiny cuts and cracked pads. A little petroleum jelly may soften the pads and prevent further cracking. 
  • If you need to go outside during the storm, limit exposure and make sure your dog is on a leash and wearing an ID tag. During heavy snowfall, dogs can lose their scent and become lost. More dogs get lost during winter than any other time of year.
  • Don't leave your pet alone in a car without proper precautions. If the engine is off, the temperature in the car will get too cold.

Health Tips:  

  • Antifreeze, which often collects on driveways and roadways, is highly poisonous.  Although it smells and tastes good to your pet, it can be lethal. 
  • Rock salt, used to melt ice on sidewalks, may irritate footpads.  Be sure to rinse your pet’s feet after a walk with a warm, damp cloth or towel and be sure to dry them off afterwards.
  • Provide plenty of fresh water.  Your pet is just as likely to get dehydrated in the winter as in the summer. 
  • Frostbite is a winter hazard.  To prevent frostbite on your animal's ears, tail and feet, don't leave your pet outdoors for too long.
  • Be very careful of supplemental heat sources.  Fireplaces and portable heaters can severely burn your pet. Make sure all fireplaces have screens, and keep portable heaters out of reach.
  • Animals can be more susceptible to illness in the winter.  Take your pet to a veterinarian if you see any suspicious symptoms. 
  • Winter does not necessarily mean the end of bug season.  Likewise, winter does not mean you should stop giving heartworm, flea, and tick preventatives to your cherished companions. 
If your pet encounters any health issues due to the information provided above, please contact your veterinarian for further instructions.