Soaking up winter sunshine, breathing in fresh, clean winter air and bonding with your pet while exercising all make spending time outdoors with your pet worth the layers of clothes you need to keep warm! Another benefit of outdoor activity during the winter that you might not think about is weight gain: not yours, but your pet’s. Keep your pet active indoors and outdoors to avoid gaining winter weight—in fact what better way to keep you both in shape, than to take daily walks even in winter.
To avoid hidden hazards covered with snow in your yard, we recommend that part of your fall clean up each year be safely discarding and/or safely storing lawn, garden and other warm weather chemicals used in your yard and home. This includes fertilizers, weed killers, insect and rodent poison but also antifreeze you’ve purchased to winterize your vehicles. Also on your cleanup checklist should be removing debris, brush and other objects that, when covered with ice and snow, will present a new challenge or risk to your pet outdoors. If year round physical activity is one avenue to overall pet health, then incorporating a little pet-friendly yard preparation into your outdoor chores makes good sense. We know that things like antifreeze and other chemicals, sharp objects buried in snow, lack of shelter and food, and even dehydration from a lack of drinking water outdoors are all major risks to our pets during cold weather. Offer your dog water before and after outdoor activity and ensure that clean, fresh, unfrozen water is available outdoors for extended outdoor times. Other considerations for extended outdoor times are providing a covered, padded place to be sheltered from the weather; access to food and water; and a heat source available when the outdoor temperature is extreme. Keep an eye on the temperature outdoors, ice melt chemicals on sidewalks, streets and driveways, sharp edges of ice encrusted snow and frozen puddles; but with a little awareness of your surroundings outdoors, the benefits for you and your dog are worth it.
Another component of pet safety during the winter is safe travel. While most pet owners still don’t place their pets in animal-friendly harnesses or carriers while traveling in motor vehicles, more and more are. Understandably, pet owners may skip this aspect of travel with their pets because it seems unnecessary or takes too much extra time, however consider the fact that the American Automobile Association (AAA) estimates pets moving inside vehicles is the third worst distraction to the driver and passengers. Additionally, pets can’t brace themselves against swerves and turns of the vehicle which often result from ice, snow and black ice on the roads mixed with vehicles. These unexpected movements can cause injury to pets as well as the human passengers on board. Beyond the added safety provided by a harness or carrier, this pet equipment is inexpensive; therefore cost is not an issue and the few minutes required to use them yields peace of mind and reduces the likelihood of severe injury during travel.
To learn more about cold weather safety, read on. We’re here to answer any questions or address any concerns you have, therefore feel free to call or email us with questions.