Play it Safe in the Snow

5 winter pet safety tips to protect your dog from the elements

Oh, the weather outside is frightful… but playing in it is so delightful!

It’s winter in New England and the snow, ice, and frigid winds from the Atlantic are upon us. While our human instincts are to cozy-up indoors with a heated blanket and cup of hot cocoa, we know that it’s impossible –and unhealthy–to hibernate all winter long.

Just as people need to keep active, healthy, and — of course— warm during the colder months, our canine companions need to as well. In fact, January was designated as National Walk Your Dog Month for that very reason!

When you and your pup brave the outdoors for exercise, follow these 5 winter pet safety tips to ensure fun for everyone:

1. Prepare Rover for the elements. If your dog typically has a longer coat, let it grow out for the winter; it will provide warmth and protection from the cold. If your pup has a short coat, keep him warm with a coat or a sweater. Just like you, your furry friend will enjoy the outdoors much more if he isn’t shivering!

winter pet safety tips

BONUS TIP: Snow can sometimes affects a pet’s sense of smell and their ability to navigate home! Make sure your pet’s microchip and identification tag are up-to-date in the event you and your pet become separated.

2. Keep Fido on a leash. Dogs can easily lose their scent in the snow, so never let your pet off-leash during a snowstorm, or when there’s ice or snow on the ground. If you’re walking near “frozen” ponds, lakes, or streams, remember that ice is not always uniformly thick or stable, and your pup could fall through into the icy water!

3. Wipe off your dog’s paws and stomach. Sidewalks are often treated with rock salt, antifreeze, and other dangerous chemicals. Not only can these chemicals sting your pooch’s paws, but they can be poisonous if ingested. Keep pet wipes by your front door to clean off you dog’s paws and stomach before he licks them first!

4. Never leave Spot alone in a cold car. Just as it’s TOO HOT FOR SPOT in the summer, the temperature in your car can become TOO LOW FOR FIDO and dangerously cold in the winter. The toasty temperatures inside your vehicle don’t stick around for long once the engine is turned off. Always bring your dog indoors with you or leave them safe and warm at home!

5. Pay attention to your pooch’s protein. If your dog spends a lot of time frolicking outdoors make sure he’s getting enough protein in his diet. Among other benefits, protein helps maintain a healthy coat–a thick barrier that will help protect him from the cold!

For more helpful tips about dog and cat health and behavior, visit arlboston.org/helpfultips.