How to Prepare Your Pets for Winter

Pets in Winter

Earlier this month, an “artic outbreak” brought record-breaking cold weather and snow across the U.S. from the Midwest to the East Coast and up through New England.

It even went as far south as the upper coast of Texas, where temperatures dropped around 40 degrees over one 24-hour period. In Buffalo, New York, the 8.2 inches of snow on November 11 of this year broke a record snowfall of 5.2 inches set on the exact same date 77 years ago.

The start to the 2019-2020 winter season has already been brutal, or at least temperamental, but it doesn’t look like it’s letting up anytime soon.

This week is a big travel week as many people, 55 million to be exact, head out to see their loved ones or just getaway for the Thanksgiving holiday. Thanks to lower gas prices, more people are traveling via car, but this week, travel with caution!

Two snow and rain storms have been predicted to hit the Midwest and Southern California. Thankfully, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade will continue as usual with no snow or rain expected in the Northeast.

If you are not a fan of skiing, spend Thanksgiving day in Florida and avoid all this winter nonsense. If that’s not realistic (next year?), then bundle up!

Most of those who live in the Northern U.S. know how to prepare for winter.

We’re not scared of a little snowfall, icy roads, and power outages. Homes are properly insulated, with the gutters, vents, and chimneys cleared to prepare for snowmelt.

Holes in homes where not-so-cuddly critters may crawl in seeking warmth and shelter from the blistering outside air are boarded and sealed. Cars are filled with antifreeze and snow-scrapers are handy. (Just go buy a snow-scraper, don’t use random household objects to try to get the ice and snow off your windshield. It doesn’t work. Don’t use shovels, hangers, and credit cards). But there is one area for winter-proofing that is often over looked: Pet Safety.

A good rule to follow is that if it’s too cold for humans, it’s too cold for doggos.

Don’t forget that cold is more than just temperature- windchill is a huge factor in causing frostbite and hypothermia. Don’t leave your pets to roam around in the backyard for longer than you can stand to be out there without a coat.

Take them for a walk and let them do their business. Of course, some breeds love playing in the snow and have a thick coat made just for that, but this doesn’t mean pet owners should leave them out all day.

Keep an eye on them and if they start shivering, bring them inside.

Short-haired dog owners often buy their pets coats, sweaters, and booties in the winter. For a walk that’s longer than 10 minutes, these breeds need some protection from the cold air or snow that they don’t have naturally.

The ice melt used on roads can also be harmful to dogs and irritate their paws, so if you’re not using booties then make sure you wipe their paws after the walk. Not only do these warm winter outfits keep your animal safe in freezing temperatures, but they are definitely Instagram worthy.

Not a dog person? There are still ways to make sure your cats are winter ready.

With an indoor cat you don’t have to worry, all they need is a nice bed and blanket away from any drafts. In fact, they provide a nice bonus in terms of winter proofing your house.

You won’t have to spend money on mouse traps. With an outdoor cat, you have to be more careful. In general, outdoor cats should become indoor cats for the winter season.

However, if they do escape, cats are drawn to the warm spots they find outside, including car hoods. Before turning on your car, bang on the hood or beep the horn to scare them away.

This also works for any stray animals that may have climbed inside your car and are sleeping near the engine. Antifreeze is deadly to animals, but they are drawn to its sweet taste.

Keep pets away from your car or buy some pet-safe antifreeze. Remember to never leave pets in your car, even for a short period of time, on a hot day or on a cold day.

So, maybe you don’t own any pets at all.

You can still help! If the temperature drops below 15 degrees, stray cats are in danger of hypothermia.

It only takes five minutes to make a cat shelter for strays. Recycle a cardboard box and some Styrofoam to make an insulated shelter. Put some old towels and blankets inside. Leave out a warm water and some canned tuna fish.