Pets and Cold Winter Weather

By Valdette Muller| July 31, 2018 | Blog

Just because pets have fur coats, it does not mean they can necessarily tolerate the cold better than humans.

You are probably already aware of the risks posed by warm weather and leaving pets in hot cars, but did you know that cold weather can also pose a serious threat to your pets’ health?

Like us, our pets are used to the warmth of our homes and cold weather can be as hard on our pets as it is on us.

Cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia, just like people.

Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather.

As the cold fronts hit parts of South Africa during winter, parts of our country can reach below freezing temperatures and experience snowfall.

Its important to keep in mind these following things before your dog or cat goes venturing off into freezing weather:

Winter wellness and health: 

Has your pet been sick or have they had an operation recently? Cold weather may worsen some medical conditions, even senior pets with degenerative disorders such as arthritis.

If this is the case, it would be best to only allow your pets out during midday when the sun is high and when the weather feels a bit warmer.

Understand your pets limits when it comes to cold weather:

Just like humans, your pet’s cold tolerance can vary based on their coat, body fat stores, activity level, and health.

Be aware of your pet’s tolerance for cold weather, and remember to adjust their time spent outside accordingly.

For cats it can be easy, as they usually refuse to leave the warmth of their home to venture off into the cold. They tend to just want to go back inside once they have reached their limit in the cold.

As for dogs if they cannot get into the house by themselves, you will have to let them back in at a certain time when temperatures outside start falling.

Walking in cold weather:

Regardless of the cold weather, dogs still need to be kept active and require exercise.

However keeping your dog warm and safe outdoors is imperative when there is snow on the ground and when temperatures are below freezing.

Shortening your dog’s walks or only walking during the late mornings or early afternoons when it is warmer, this walking schedule may help during the colder months.

Make sure to give your dog a dog jacket or jersey to wear wile he/she is out side in the cold.

Checking the paws:

Check your dog’s paws frequently during the cold winter months for dryness or damage caused by the cold, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding.

During a walk, a sudden lameness may occur due to numbness from the cold. Injury may also occur due to ice accumulation between the toes.

If you live in an area known for snowy weather, invest in some boots for your dog that are specifically made for snow and keeping your pet’s paws from harm.

If your dog’s feet are wet from snow or frosty grass, make sure to pat them dry or to remove any clumped snow off of them as this can become quite sore  and irritating for their paws if left unattended.

Anti Freeze concerns:

Many chemicals used in the winter months can be hazardous and even deadly to a dog or cat.

Antifreeze can kill in very small amounts.  Even the “pet-safe” antifreezes are not 100% safe: they simply have a lower toxicity.

If you know or suspect your dog or cat has ingested antifreeze, call your vet or emergency vet clinic immediately!





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