As the winter chill continues to freeze over New Jersey, we want to share with you our cold weather and winter safety tips. The winter season officially begins December 21, but as the temperatures drop, keep these tips in mind to protect your pet from the cold:

  • Groom them properly — During the winter months, let your pet’s fur coat stay on the longer side to help keep her warm. But, trim the fur around her feet shorter to prevent snow and ice from building up.
  • Beware of chemicals — A small amount of antifreeze can be deadly if your pup licks up the sweet-tasting chemical, and products used to melt ice on sidewalks and driveways can be dangerous, too. Always use pet-safe ice melts, and be sure to wipe your dog’s paws off after she comes inside.
  • Keep them warm — Most pets aren’t fans of wearing clothes, but some—especially small and short-haired breeds—will do best on winter walks if they’re wearing a sweater or coat. And, when the snow and ice pile up outside, booties can make all the difference. Think you’ve been outside too long with your pet? Watch for signs of frostbite, including:
    • Pale, gray, or blue skin (early)
    • Red, puffy skin (after frostbite has progressed)
    • Pain in the ears, paws, or tail when touched
    • Skin that stays cold
    • Shriveled skin

And, a pet suffering from hypothermia may exhibit:

  • Violent shivering
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rectal temperature below 98° F

Once hypothermia advances, coma and cardiac arrest are possible.

  • Avoid winter accidents — If you have to walk your pet early in the morning or after dark when you get home from work, be sure you’re both visible to vehicles and other pedestrians. Use a reflective harness, collar, or leash, and wear a reflective coat and a headlamp to increase visibility. Also, never let your pet venture onto ice—you never know where weak spots could be, no matter how solid you think it is.

Your pet has a natural fur coat, but that doesn’t mean she can endure lengthy walks or backyard romps during frigid temperatures. If it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your furry friend.

American Animal Hospital is here to help when you need us most. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


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