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October 3, 2022
Hey, pet parents! We’re headed into what for many regions of the United States are the cold months. With these come chilly temperatures, rain, snow, and mud. How do you keep your pet exercised and stimulated in these months, while still keeping your house as free as possible from the debris pets drag in after being out in the soggy soil that may be in various stages of freezing, melting, re-freezing? We’ll tell ya!
Get Those Reps in Even in the Cold
Although cooler weather may make your cozy home harder to leave for you and your pup, you can’t just stop exercising. You’ve gotta get your steps in this time of year too, even though it might be less pleasant outside or take more effort and creativity to exercise.
Sorry, binging a show couch side won’t keep your pet in shape these next few months. Just keep your walks short and go during daylight.
Gear Up Against Frostbite
Short-haired dogs should wear a coat or sweater outside when it’s cold. Long-haired dogs that are routinely groomed should forego winter grooms. But do still brush them regularly. A well-groomed coat will actually insulate a dog better.
Frostbite is when the body becomes so cold that blood is pulled from the extremities to the core. Dogs’ legs, noses, toes, tails and ears are the most susceptible body parts to frostbite. The best thing you can do to avoid it in your pet is to just not have them be out in the cold for too long. If you’re around a frozen body of water, keep your dog leashed and even then take great care. They can break through and get hypothermia sooner than you might think. If you have a pool that still has water in it that has frozen, block access to it.
And puppies are more susceptible to the cold than adult dogs. If you get a puppy in the next handful of months, consider doing indoor potty training on newspaper rather than the usually prescribed lots of trips outside, hanging around until they go.
Fur doesn’t mean total protection from the cold. If it’s too cold for you to stay out for any prolonged amount of time, it’s too cold for them to stay out.
Boots can truly help protect little pet paws in the cold. Make sure they’re snug but not too tight.
And speaking of the winter wardrobe, one accessory you won’t want to go without is a microchip for your pet. More dogs are lost in winter than in any other season. Keep your pet microchipped and on a leash generally when you go out this season.
Looking Out for Cats in the Cold
Keep your cats and other indoor pets in your home when temperatures drop. They can easily freeze in freezing temperatures. If left out, they may seek shelter under car hoods or in people’s sheds, garages, or other hard-to-access nooks and crannies of people’s property. If you live in a cold place, bang on the hood of your car before starting it.
Don’t Drag in Undesirable Cold Weather Debris
Salt and de-icing chemicals are the first things we’ll address here. After you and your pup have been out for a walk and potentially walked through these, rinse their paws, abdomen, and legs. The stuff is toxic to ingest. Excessive drooling, vomiting, and depression can be signs of having ingested it. At the very least, it can make their paw pads dry and irritated.
Also make sure to get any ice balls they’ve dragged in with them off of their paws, as these too can cause frostbite.
And do your best to make sure they don’t bring any antifreeze in with them. Any of this ingested can also be toxic. And unfortunately, the generic kind tastes great to pets, so they will be tempted. Use a nontoxic kind yourself. Use ones that contain propylene glycol, not ethylene glycol. Clean up all spills immediately and thoroughly and keep your dog from licking at spills you encounter on walks.
And to avoid everyone’s worst soggy season enemy, mud, here are some tips. If you’re going out with your pup in the mud, think ahead and put towels by your door to catch it when they come in. And some have suggested using wool horse blankets as rugs as an easier-to-wash and dry alternative to conventional rugs.
The key with mud is to catch your dog before they come in, and get the mud off their paws. Otherwise even if they don’t make a mess right when they come in, they’ll probably settle somewhere and pick dried mud out of their toes. Teach your pup to sit and stay at the door, and let you clean off at least the worst of the mud when returning from a walk.
More Cold Weather Health Tips
You know the famous frozen pole scene in “A Christmas Story”? It turns out tiny humans are not the only ones who may be attracted to frozen shiny objects and triple dog dare each other to lick them and see what happens. Do not let your dogs lick frozen poles. If there are poles, sign posts, or metal fences in your yard that your pet’s tongue could get stuck to when frozen, you can cover them with pool noodles!
On another note, here’s another cold weather safety tip to keep in mind. Cold cars can pose a threat to your pets just like hot cars can. Consider leaving them at home when you go out to run errands. If you do take them with you, do not leave them in the cold, turned off car even for a short time.
Check out this Bivvy pet insurance blog post for more winter pet tips.
As you head into these cold, muddy months with your fur fam, another good thing to have on hand in case you need it is affordable dog insurance. Bivvy will reimburse you directly for covered accidents, hospitalization, and more. Happy wintering!