Keeping pets safe during extreme winter weather is a top priority for pet owners. After all, pets are part of the family and as such we want to do everything possible to keep them safe. But when heavy snow, freezing temperatures, or other extreme conditions are predicted in your area, it can be challenging to keep your pets safe. During heavy snowstorms, some pet owners will leave their pets in their yards so that they can run around and enjoy themselves. Others will bring them inside where it’s warm, but risks still exist if they knock something over or get into a cabinet that they shouldn’t. If you have a pet and live in an area prone to extreme winter weather conditions, follow these top tips to keep them safe at home, outside, and even on the road.
Pets can’t verbalize stress, fear, or anxiety-like humans do. What’s more, pets don’t have the same internal thermostat to protect them from the cold that we do. Pets need a little extra TLC during harsh winter weather.
The safety of your pet isn’t just about keeping them from running away or keeping them from eating something they shouldn’t. It also means making sure they are safe and comfortable in their home when the temperature drops outside. Here are some top tips to help keep your pet safe during extreme winter weather:
Keep Pets Indoors
Keeping your pets indoors during winter is the simplest way to keep them safe during extreme weather. Pets that are left outside in freezing temperatures face serious risks of frostbite, hypothermia, and even death from exposure if temperatures drop below freezing for several consecutive hours. If you do decide to let your pets outside during winter, make sure they have a warm, dry shelter where they can get out of the elements and stay warm.
Ideally, this will be a doghouse with a heater, bedding, and plenty of fresh water. If you keep your pets outside, try to make sure it’s not in an area that gets covered in snow as soon as it falls. This can make it hard for them to navigate around their yard and they may also become sick from ingesting snow.
Lock-Up Pet Food & Water
During winter months, it’s important to make sure your pet has food and water that stays fresh and clean. If it freezes, it could cause your pet to become sick. Likewise, pests like rats, mice, and other vermin may be attracted to water left outside in the winter. If you keep your pet’s food and water indoors, you can be sure that it’ll stay warm and clean. You can also make sure that it’s out of reach of any pets that may knock it over. If you have a heated water bowl, you can also be sure that it’ll remain warm enough for your pet to drink from it.
Provide Adequate Heating
If you keep your pet indoors, you’ll want to make sure they have adequate heating so they don’t get too cold. While some breeds of dogs do better in cold weather than others, all dogs, and most cats, are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia if they get too cold. If you have a cat, use a heating pad or other type of heating system that keeps the surface at a safe temperature. For dogs, you can use a regular space heater.
Just make sure to stay on top of the situation so that you don’t leave your pet unattended in a room with too much heat. For indoor cats, try to make sure that it doesn’t get too hot, as well. You can use a temperature control device that allows you to regulate the temperature in a specific room. This can be especially helpful if you have an open-concept floor plan where the cat likes to roam from room to room.
Install Pet Safety Windows
you keep your pets indoors but have a window in the room where they spend most of their time, consider installing pet safety windows to prevent them from falling out. If an indoor cat falls out of an open window, it may not be able to climb back up and could get seriously injured. If a dog falls out of an open window, it could be seriously injured, or even killed, by the fall. Some breeds of dogs, including the French Bulldog, are more prone to certain types of respiratory problems, including brachycephalic syndrome, which makes them particularly vulnerable to the cold.
Try to keep these breeds inside during the winter to protect them from being exposed to the cold and developing respiratory issues. If you have indoor cats, you’ll want to make sure they don’t claw or chew on the pet safety window to the point where they get it off the wall. If they do, you can use a product called “pet screen” to keep them from getting at it.
Drive Carefully With Pets
During extreme weather conditions, it’s especially important to drive carefully. If you must travel with your pet, make sure that you have a carrier for them and that you stay off the roads during times of heavy snow, ice, or high winds. If you must travel during these conditions, make sure that you drive slowly and leave plenty of time to get to your destination so that you don’t get stuck in a traffic jam or on a road that has been closed due to extreme weather. While it can be tempting to rush and get to where you’re going, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Drive responsibly and keep your pets safe. Make sure that they aren’t exposed to any elements and that they have a way to stay warm during the trip. Driving can be stressful for pets, so it can help to have calming music or even scented sprays or oils to help keep them calm.
Reduce Walk Times
If you take your pet on short walks in inclement weather, it’s important to reduce your walk time so that they don’t end up getting too cold. The general rule of thumb is that a 10-pound dog will lose heat approximately twice as fast as a 20-pound dog. So, if you walk a 10-pound dog for 30 minutes in the elements, it will likely lose heat twice as quickly as a 20-pound dog that walks for the same length of time. Ideally, you’ll want to get your furry friend back inside as soon as possible after they finish their walk. Try to avoid exercising your pet during times of extreme weather, especially if they have short, or thin, fur.
Wrap Them Up in Warm Clothing
Take your dog on longer walks, or if you have a cat that likes to climb trees and get into high places, you can help prevent them from getting too cold by wrapping them up in warm clothing. You can do the same for smaller dogs or cats that have short, thin fur and may be more susceptible to the elements. You can find a variety of clothing options for dogs, including coats, sweaters, and even boots.
Some of these options are designed for specific breeds, such as breeds that are susceptible to brachycephalic syndrome. You can also find options for cats. These will help keep your pet warm without restricting their movement or ability to walk. Some even have special pockets where you can put a small space heater to keep them warm even when they’re in a tree or somewhere else that isn’t warm.
Make Your Pet Visible
If you go on long walks with your pet, you can help ensure that they don’t get hit by a car by making them visible. You can use reflective collars, bright-colored leashes, and reflective vests to make it easier for cars to see them. You can also use a special bell on your pet’s collar so that drivers can hear them coming. If you walk your pet at night, it’s important to make sure that they are wearing reflective clothing so that drivers can see them. It’s also a good idea to use a leash with a light of some kind so that you can be seen as well.
Keeping your pets safe during extreme winter weather is important, but it can be challenging. Giving your pets plenty of warm, indoor shelter and food and water that stays warm and clean goes a long way to keeping them safe. If you have indoor cats, dog coats, sweaters, boots, or other clothing options for your pet can help keep them warm, too. Keeping an eye on weather forecasts, keeping your pets indoors as much as possible, driving slowly with pets in the car, and making your pet visible at night can help keep them safe during extreme weather.