How to Keep Your Pets Healthy This Winter

Keeping your pets healthy during the cold winter season can take some pre-planning on your part. You want to consider what your pet may need when you are outside together as well as how colder temperatures might impact them at night even inside the house.

In this article, we put together timely tips you can use to keep your pets healthy and happy this winter.

1. Make sure your pets have adequate shelter whether outdoors or indoors.

As the Humane Society of the United States points out, pet dogs and cats should be kept inside during the winter (this even includes cats that normally prefer to stay outdoors).

For any pet that does stay outdoors, an appropriate secure and heated outdoor kennel or habitat must be provided. Indoor pets may need extra protection from night-time cold or drafts.

And for very small dogs or cats, a winter sweater may be more of a necessity than a cute accessory for family holiday photos.

2. Protect those ears, noses, tummies and paws!

The North Shore Animal League of America explains that rock salt and antifreeze, two common de-icing methods, are both toxic to pets and can harm sensitive pet ears, noses, bellies and paws.

As well, if ingested, both can be toxic and antifreeze can be fatal. But your pet’s paws need protection from other dangers as well, including slippery ice, freezing cold water and snow that can cause frostbite.

If your pet will wear pet booties, this is one good option. Another option is to plan outdoor outings carefully to coincide with the warmer times of day.

3. Adjust food intake according to activity level.

Animal Health Care of Marlboro makes an excellent point about your pet’s winter food intake.

If you have a very active outdoor cat or dog, your pet may actually need a caloric increase to compensate for increased need to stay warm.

But for indoor pets that are less active in winter, just the opposite may be the case. Your lazier pet may not be happy about a reduction in portion sizes, but at least you won’t have to put them on a diet in the spring!

4. Use reflective aids for night-time or early morning walks.

With winter’s shorter daylight hours, those necessary walks before and after work may have to take place in the dark.

As WebMD Pets highlights, the low light can make you both a lot harder to see.

Switch to reflective leashes and collars and add a flashing collar light or blinker for your dog. For you, consider a human version of the same.

5. Steer clear of toxic holiday edibles.

You don’t want your strongest memory of this winter season to be your emergency visit to the nearest animal poison control ER.

Lots of cheery holiday favorites are also totally toxic to pets.

From mistletoe and holly berry poisoning to ingestion of tree tinsel and wrapping paper, swiping chocolate or walnuts from the candy dish to slurping a guest’s holiday wine, your pet is going to need your help to steer clear of these toxic favorites.

6. Know the warning signs that the cold is getting to your pet.

Dogs Naturally Magazine encourages owners to learn the warning signs of common winter health issues like hypothermia (getting too cold) and frostbite.

Young pets and senior pets are particularly prone to winter health problems related to the sustained cold weather.

The best rule of thumb to follow is this: if it feels too cold for you to comfortably stay outside without bundling up, it is also too cold for your pets and they need to come inside and warm up.

You should never hesitate to contact your veterinarian if you are concerned for your pet.

With the help of these six timely tips, you and your pets can enjoy a safe winter holiday season together.

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