Tips To Keep Your Pets Safe & Comfortable In The Winter
1. Keep Them Warm
Some pets have thick fur, but that doesn't automatically protect them from the cold. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, fur does provide a layer of protection, but it's important to take more steps to ensure your pets stay warm during the cold winter months. Here are a few tips to accomplish exactly that:
- Proper Grooming: It’s important to never shave your pet down to their skin during the winter as this exposes them to harsher temperatures and leaves their skin exposed. If you have a pet with long hair, trim the hair around their legs and stomach to minimize the amount of ice and chemicals that get stuck to their fur.
- Sweaters: Who said sweaters are just for people? Sweaters for your pets are a great way to keep them warm when it’s cold outside. If you have a short-haired pet, it’s a good idea to put a sweater on them before they go outside. When looking for a sweater (or even a pet coat), you should make sure it has a high collar and covers from the base of the tail to the belly. This is especially important for little dogs with short legs because their stomachs are more likely to come in contact with the snow.
- Feed Them A Little More: We promise your pet didn’t bribe us to write this! Animals burn extra calories when they are trying to stay warm. So, giving your pet a little extra food when it’s cold can help ensure they are getting all the calories they need.
- Keep Pets Sheltered: Pets should never be left outside during the winter, even if they like to roam during other seasons. Make sure your pet has a warm space to sleep and keep them indoors as much as possible. As a rule of thumb, if it’s too cold for you outside, then it’s too cold for them. If your pet spends long periods of time outdoors, they need a draft-free shelter that is small enough to keep in their body heat, but big enough for them to comfortably move around in. Cats are especially at risk if they sleep outside because they often find shelter under cars when it’s cold. This is dangerous because if someone gets in their car without noticing, the cat could be badly injured or even killed.
2. Protect Their Paws
Salt and other chemicals used to de-ice the streets and sidewalks can be harmful to your pets’ paws. These chemicals can not only irritate your pets’ paws, but the chemicals can also be harmful if your pet licks their paws. To protect your furry friend’s four paws, there are a few things you can do (According to ASCPA):
- Use Petroleum Jelly: Massage Petroleum jelly (or other paw protectants) into their paws before taking them outside. This is recommended by the ASPCA because it adds a layer of protection between the paw and the chemicals, making it harder for the chemicals to penetrate their skin.
- Booties: For additional protection, booties are a great way to prevent the chemicals from touching your pets’ paws. These provide more protection than using petroleum jelly or other paw protectants, but you may receive more pushback from your pets if they don’t enjoy wearing shoes.
- Wash Their Paws And Stomachs: After each walk, you should wash your pets’ paws and stomach to prevent irritation. This removes the salt, chemicals, and ice from their bodies and prevents long exposure to the chemicals. It’s important to check between the paw-pads for redness or irritation between the toes. You can also take a towel on your walk with you to wipe off your pets’ feet throughout the walk. While you should wash their paws after every walk, you shouldn't bathe them that often during the winter. Pets’ skin can be prone to dryness in the cold months and bathing them only strips their skin of essential oils they need. If you do bathe your dog often, make sure to get a moisturizing shampoo.
3. Prepare For An Emergency
Emergencies are never expected, which is why it’s essential to have a plan before an emergency happens. Here are a few steps you can take to help prepare you in case your pet ever has an emergency:
- Create An Emergency Kit: Winter storms may bring power outages or cause you to be stranded in a car somewhere. Wherever you are, whether it be in your house or in your car, prepare for an outage or a storm by having an emergency kit packed and nearby. While making the kit, it’s important to keep the furry members of the family in mind too. You should always have enough dog food, water, and medication to last your pet at least five days.
- Pet Wellness Exams: Having a good relationship with your vet is a great thing. Your pet should visit the vet regularly, meaning at least once every year. It’s a good idea to schedule your pet’s wellness exam before the winter months, as some conditions can be worsened by cold weather. It’s also a good idea to consult your vet on what steps you should take to protect your pet in the winter (and throughout the year) as they will be able to give you a customized plan for your unique pet. Some conditions that worsen with cold weather include arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances.
- Develop An Emergency Care Plan: You should have your vet’s phone number accessible at all times in case you ever need to contact them in a hurry. You should also familiarize yourself with the directions to the nearest emergency vet clinic or animal hospital. The last thing you want to be doing during an emergency is scrambling to find directions. If you think you have an emergency with your pet, you can always call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline at 1-888-426-4435.
4. Be Extra Cautious During The Holidays
The holiday season is a great time of the year, but for pets, the holidays can provide increased risks to their safety. The holidays bring new people, new decorations, and new treats into the house which can pose a threat to certain pets, especially if your furry friend is curious about new things. Here are a few things to consider during the holidays:
- The Tree: Christmas trees bring festivity into a home, but they can confuse and harm our furry friends in certain ways. If you have a cat, you should consider securing your tree in case they try to play on it or climb it. You should also avoid adding aspirin, sugar, or anything else to the water if you have a real Christmas tree in your home.
- Ornaments: You should try to make sure ornaments are safely out of reach and are shatterproof in case they drop. Ingesting a part of an ornament can cause internal injuries or could even be toxic to your pet.
- Plants: Certain plants can be toxic to cats and dogs. The ASPCA has a list of household plants that are toxic and there are various holiday plants on that list. Amaryllis, mistletoe, pine, cedar, holly, and poinsettias can all be potentially toxic or dangerous to your pet. Click on these links to view the full lists of toxic plants for dogs and for cats.
- Candles: There’s nothing like lighting a candle and getting cozy under a blanket when it’s cold outside, but always remember to blow out the candle before you leave the room. Pets should never be left alone in the room with a lit candle as they can accidentally knock over the candle, which could result in a destructive fire.
- Food: Everyone enjoys food during the holidays. From festive meals to delicious treats, pets have more opportunities to snag a snack during the holidays, but these treats can be dangerous for pets. The best rule of thumb is to not give any human food to your pets. Most people know that chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats, but many people don't realize that foods like turkey can also be harmful to pets. You should be extra diligent at making sure food is kept out of reach of pets during the holidays and be sure to ask your guests to refrain from feeding your pets.
5. Get Pet Insurance
Getting a pet insurance policy for your pet is a great idea for every pet owner! Not only does it give you peace of mind, but it also can help you out financially when it comes to your pet care costs. Pets are expensive, especially when it comes to their health, but like other insurance policies, pet insurance can help mitigate these costs. By having a policy on your pet’s health, you don’t need to choose between helping your sick pet and the costly care that it takes to achieve that.
What exactly is covered by your pet insurance in Westminster?</strong
- Treatments for illness and disease
- Cancer and chemotherapy services
- Surgery, hospitalizations, and nursing care
- Alternative therapies
- Chronic and recurring conditions (like allergies, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism)
With your pet insurance policy, you'll also be eligible for a Wellness Rewards plan. Ask your insurance agent about an optional wellness rewards plan to add to your pet insurance in Westminster. This plan will provide coverage for routine care such as annual check-ups, vaccinations, dental cleanings, and more.
But, what is NOT covered by your pet insurance policy?
- Cosmetic and elective procedures, like tail docking, ear cropping, and declawing (except when medically necessary)
- Vet fees related to pregnancy, breeding, and whelping
- Orthodontic or endodontic procedures (Root canals or crowns)
- Treatment for behavioral problems
- Vitamins, supplements, pet foods, and personal care items (shampoo, ear cleaner, etc.)
Is your pet eligible for a pet insurance policy? Your pet needs to be under 14 years of age to sign on to a new health insurance policy. There are certain pre-existing conditions that can make your pet ineligible for certain coverages. If your pet has a pre-existing condition, you can still get accident-only coverage to help protect your pet.
Keep Your Pet Safe All-Year-Round With Affordable Pet Insurance In Westminster
If you want to make sure that your pet is in great health through every season of the year, then you need to purchase pet insurance for them. With that policy in place, you'll be prepared for the risks posed to your pets in both the colder and hotter seasons. And this way, you won't be on the hook to cover all the costs of your pet care needs! What could be better than that?
Contact the Adler Insurance Group today to learn how you can protect your furry friend with reliable pet insurance in Westminster.