5 Cold Weather Tips for Pets

With winter comes snow, sleet and ice -- conditions that aren't always delightful. Pets tend to tolerate cold weather more than humans due to their fur coats, but they can't always cope with freezing temperatures and walking on icy surfaces or ones treated with anti-ice measures. Here are some tips from to help keep your pets comfortable when venturing outdoors during cold weather.

Keep Paws Dry and Free From Ice

Dogs are more likely to have issues with ice caked to their paws, but the few cats that go outside during the winter can suffer as well. Apply petroleum jelly to the pads of cats and dogs to protect their skin from ice melting agents. Don't worry, it's safe to apply petroleum jelly to the pads of cats. Wash and dry the pads of cats and dogs after they've been outside to remove anything they've picked up. Boots are a good idea for dogs as they tend to tolerate wearing them, but cats may not handle wearing anything on their feet.

Don't Shave Coats to the Skin During the Winter

Cats and dogs grow undercoats that insulate their bodies in the coldest of temps, even ones that are short haired. Long-haired pets grow the thickest coats which means a lot of hair flying around. Resist the urge to shave down the coat on a pet that goes outdoors regularly. If you're dealing with grooming issues, trim the hairs that are collecting ice and snow.

Use Outer Garments on Short-Haired Pets

Short-haired pets have a harder time staying warm than their longer haired brethren. Dogs take to wearing coats just fine and you can even get them used to wearing hoodies or caps to give them additional warmth. Use coats that cover the back and neck while leaving the underside exposed for maximum heat retention and ease of shedding excess heat. Short-haired animals still generate body heat when they're in motion and appreciate it when cool air keeps them from overheating.

Make Noise to Get Rid of Unwanted Guests in Your Car

Cats have a tendency to get into engine compartments and behind tires to stay warm during cold weather. In order to prevent an accident, make a lot of noise when approaching your car, honk the horn or smack the hood with the flat of your hand. You'll startle the cats and make them leave the car before you turn on the ignition.

Stay Inside Whenever Possible

When nature calls, your pets do have to go outside to take care of their business. Minimize the amount of time your pets stay outside and call them in after a brief romp outside. Pets can get hypothermia from exposure to cold air the same as people. Huskies and Samoyeds are bred to for cold weather and are capable of tolerating frigid temps for a long time. Other breeds are not as hardy and shouldn't be left outside for too long.

Always remember the maxim of "if you're cold, they're cold" when it comes to pets and cold temperatures. Keeping them warm and dry during the winter helps keep them healthy and comfortable.

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