Preparing for Cold Weather with Your Pet


Winter has already teased us with some very cold days in November. That means the real season will be here before we know it. Just like the other three seasons, winter requires pet owners to make some adjustments to ensure their favorite companion animal stays safe and healthy until the warm weather returns again

While it isn’t necessary to keep your pet inside all winter, we at Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo encourage you to consider the cold weather from your pet’s perspective. If your dog spends a lot of time outside, for example, consider adding insulation to her dog house. Bring her inside when the temperatures drop below a comfortable level. Even if you think it looks silly and your pet protests wearing them, placing a sweater and booties on your dog on the coldest winter days is a good idea. The booties also protect your pet from injuries caused by cuts from ice or road salt.

Learn to Recognize Signs of Hypothermia and Frostbite

When your pet is consistently exposed to below-freezing temperatures, it could result in either of these conditions. Common signs of hypothermia include weakness, lethargy, uncontrollable shivering, and bright red or black body tissues. If your pet develops frostbite, you can usually see signs of it on his tail, paw pads, and ear tips. Please contact us right away if you notice exposed areas of your pet become red and then dark.

Look for These Winter Hazards, Too

Don’t be surprised if you go to start your car one morning and find a cat or small dog in the wheel well seeking warmth. A stray pet or possibly even a wild animal may try to get into the exhaust system or under the hood of your vehicle as well. Always double-check your car for extra visitors before starting the engine.

Unfortunately, anti-freeze poisoning of pets is common in the winter. The clear color and sweet smell attracts thirsty pets and they can become violently ill almost immediately. You can avoid this by storing any unused anti-freeze out of your pet’s reach as well as wiping spills in the garage or driveway immediately.

Besides damaging your pet’s paw pads, road salt can make her ill if she tries to ingest it. Be on the lookout for her trying to do this and cover her paws when walking to avoid an injury. Keeping the fur between toes trimmed can also help keep her paws in good shape this winter.

Be Prepared for Increase in Arthritic Symptoms

The cold weather can cause increased pain and/or stiffness in our aging pets. Joint supplements or receiving therapeutic laser treatments may be beneficial to help in reduction of inflammation. We're proud to offer Class IV laser therapy to our clients as an effective treatment for many cases of acute and chronic pain.

Don’t Forget About Chickens!

The downy feathers of a chicken help to keep them warm during cold weather. However, they need an insulated chicken coop free of drafts to be comfortable and remain in good health. When a chicken settles down at night, they typically does so on a perch. This helps to keep the feet warm but leaves the combs and wattles vulnerable to the extreme Minnesota cold. To prevent this, look around the coop and patch any holes. The added benefit of blocking drafts is that it also prevents rodents from entering the coop. Make sure your chickens always have a fresh supply of water (unfrozen).

Please contact us at Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo if you need additional cold weather tips.

Image credit: Tomas Maracek / iStock / Getty Images Plus 

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St. Paul, MN 55117
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Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN
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St. Paul, MN 55012
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