Category Archives: winter care for pets

Can Dogs and Cats Get Frostbite?

By Linda Cole

Winters can be really snowy and cold in my neck of the woods, making it hard for humans and animals to get around. My dogs do fine when we’re outside, provided their time in the snow and cold is limited. But in extreme cold, it takes only a few minutes before they’re limping back with very cold feet. I’ve had occasions where I’ve had to pick one up and carry her back inside. It’s important to keep a close eye on pets during the winter months because they can get frostbite on their feet, ears, tail and nose.

Some dog and cat breeds have a warm coat that provides them with good protection from harsh weather. The Norwegian Forest Cat and Maine Coon Cat developed naturally on their own, adapting to weather conditions to survive. Northern dogs were bred to work in extreme weather conditions. They needed to be tough because human lives depended on their ability to handle snow and cold. However, even pets with double coats can feel the effects of the cold and are at risk of frostbite, especially inside pets that aren’t acclimated to the colder temperatures.

A pet is at risk of frostbite when the temperature drops to 32º F and below. When exposed to the cold for too long, the body begins a process of survival. Blood vessels closest to the skin begin to constrict and push blood to the core to protect vital organs like the heart and liver. The longer the body is exposed to the cold, blood flow at the extremities can become so low it can’t protect these areas from freezing, which results in tissue damage. These are the areas of the body farthest from the heart with little to no hair covering them. The tip of the tail, ears, paw pads and toes are the most common areas affected, but dogs and cats can get frostbite on their nose, too.

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Winter Safety Tips for Responsible Pet Owners

By Langley Cornwell

It is cold today, bundle-up-tight cold. I just got back from the grocery store and have not completely thawed out. While I was in the grocery parking lot, the only available space was beside a car with a small dog locked inside. As I stood between the cars planning my next move, an elderly woman approached. I started a friendly chat with her and subtly mentioned the dangers of leaving a small dog alone in a car during the cold winter months. I gently explained how a car can function much like a refrigerator, trapping the cold air inside and harmfully lowering the dog’s body temperature. She seemed grateful for the conversation, and went on to tell me how much she loved her ‘Sassy’ and would do anything for that dog.

Those circumstances compel me to write about a topic that has been well-covered but may serve as an important refresher this time of year. Here are a few important tips to help protect your cats and dogs during the winter months:

Be careful with chemicals. Many people use chemical products to melt the sleet, snow and ice from their sidewalks and driveways. If you live in an area where these types of products are needed, look for pet safe options. Of course, the salt or chemicals your neighbor and the local highway department uses may not be safe for pets. These potentially toxic products can cause a host of problems including chemical burns to your dog or cat’s pads, tongue and throat. Additionally, salt, antifreeze and other chemicals can cause a variety of illnesses when ingested.

If possible, train your pet to wear booties. If protective footwear is not an option, there are paw wax products available to help keep your dog safe on winter outings. Review these winter paw-care tips and always clean your pet’s chest, stomach, legs and feet with warm water when he comes in out of the ice, sleet or snow.

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Hypothermia and Your Pet: What are the Signs?

By Linda Cole

Winter is just around the corner and as temperatures begin to fall, so does the danger of pets developing hypothermia. It doesn’t have to be freezing for us or our pets to become too cold. If you have an outside cat or a dog that enjoys winter sports or just playing outside in the snow, you should know what the signs of hypothermia are and how to treat it.

A good friend of mine recently told me a story about a kitten she had. “My tiny kitten accidentally fell into the toilet while I was sleeping and couldn’t get out. I walked in and found her lying in the bowl with her head out of the water. She was shivering and unresponsive. Not having a clue what to do, I rushed her to the emergency vet, where they told me she was hypothermic. She was totally fine in a few hours, but man was I scared.”

Hypothermia can be a serious, life threatening condition. Knowing what the signs are can save your pet’s life. We usually associate hypothermia with winter time and cold temperatures, but as my friend’s story shows, it can happen inside the house as well.

What causes hypothermia? The core temperature of the body falls below its normal temperature. Pets that get too cold can experience a mild (90 – 99 degrees F), moderate (82 – 90 degrees F) or severe (less than 82 degrees F) drop in temperature. A dog’s normal body temperature is 101 to 102.5, and a cat’s normal temperature is 100.4 to 102.5.

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Winter Paw Care for Dogs


By Linda Cole

Winter weather can be rough on a dog’s paws, and at times can be downright painful. A combination of cold temperatures, snow and ice can take a toll on your best friend’s feet. Winter paw care for dogs is essential to keep their feet pain free and healthy during the cold days of winter.

Winter Paw Care for Dogs Tip #1:

Beware of chemical de-icers and ice melt on streets and sidewalks. Your dog needs to go outside even during the coldest or snowiest days of winter. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a dog pen where their dog can hang out, take care of their business and stretch their legs. A dog who stays in their own yard doesn’t have to worry about getting ice melt or chemical de-icers on their paws along with the snow and ice. If you walk your dog during the winter, it’s important to pay attention to sidewalks and streets after a fresh snowfall, and try to avoid as much of the chemicals used to clear streets and sidewalks as you can.

Winter Paw Care for Dogs Tip #2:

Trim the hair between their pads. Even dogs like Siberian Huskies can get cold paws during winter weather. Some dogs have hair that grows between their pads and if it gets too long, it collects snow and ice that can dig into their pads. Hair growth between the pads should be trimmed even with their pads to help eliminate as much frozen snow as possible from sticking to the hair.

Inspect your dog’s feet after they come inside and clean them with warm water to remove any chemicals they may have picked up. An inside/outside cat should also have their feet cleaned when they come in. This is the perfect time to inspect between their toes and the pads to make sure there are no cuts or scrapes that have become infected. Never allow your dog or cat to clean their own paws after an afternoon or evening walk. The chemical ice melts and de-icers can be toxic to them.

Winter Paw Care for Dogs Tip #3:

Apply a soothing salve if needed. A dog’s pads can become irritated from walking on snow and ice. After washing their feet, apply petroleum jelly, Bag Balm or a similar salve to help soothe their irritated paws. You can reapply before going outside for their next walk or a game of fetch in the snow. Waterproof booties are a good solution to eliminate wear and tear on your dog’s feet. They will also help keep your dog warmer. Dogs lose heat through their ears and feet. Along with booties, a good waterproof/windproof coat with a hood can help keep your buddy warm while enjoying outside activities or taking care of business.

Winter Paw Care for Dogs Tip #4:

Keep your dog’s nails trimmed. If your dogs are anything like mine, nail trimming time is not one of their favorite bonding moments. However, it’s important to keep their nails properly trimmed. Nails that are too long can lead to a foot deformity called splayed feet. When their nails are too long, the toes are spread apart more than they should be and when they walk in snow or icy conditions, there is a greater probability the dog will collect more snow and ice between their toes. Nails that are too long can also lead to sore nail beds, torn nails, hip and back problems and painful feet that make it hard for them to put their full weight on their feet.

Winter is a beautiful time of the year, but the snow and ice can damage your dog’s feet with little cuts and scrapes from ice and snow that gets packed in between the pads on his feet and toes. Help him stay safe and healthy in the winter by paying close attention to his feet. Winter paw care for dogs is important. After all, we wouldn’t want to walk barefoot over what our dogs have to deal with. A little TLC goes a long way and makes all the difference in the world to them.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Caring For Outside Pets in Cold Weather


By Linda Cole

Not every pet has the luxury of sleeping inside in a special pet bed or snuggling under a warm blanket beside their human on cold winter nights. Some pets are not able to share their owner’s home for a variety of reasons. Even though they are stuck outside, there are ways to help pets stay warm and dry. Outside pets need extra TLC and attention given to them through the snowy days and chilly nights of winter.

I have a friend who has four outside cats. Last fall, her husband built a beautiful insulated cat house for them with lots of room to spread out in. It has two floors with access to the second floor from the inside, and lots of straw and warm baby blankets to curl up in. Sounds like the perfect shelter to escape the wind and snow, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, the raccoons in the neighborhood think this cat house is pretty sweet too. Plus, outside pets don’t always appreciate our best efforts, and sometimes refuse to use shelter that’s been provided.

The best solution, especially for cats, is to have several different areas they can get into for shelter. Cats will search for a place that is warm, and this includes car engines. During winter, it’s a good idea to bang on the hood of your car to alert possible stowaways it’s time to vacate their nest. Banging on your hood can prevent unnecessary injuries to a cat who curled up next to a warm engine. It’s also a good idea to check your garage or any outside buildings to make sure your cat or someone else’s doesn’t get shut inside by accident.

Outside pets may need to be encouraged to use their dog house or cat house. A thick layering of straw for burrowing into works great to help ward off a cold chill. If you live in the country, you might try making a straw bale cat house like the one pictured above, which features a 2-story insulated sleeping chamber, maze-corridors and a glass-fronted “sun room.”

Avoid using hay because it has a tendency to mold when it gets wet. It’s important to keep their bedding dry. A pet door large enough for your pet to comfortably get through helps to keep out snow, rain and wind. Just keep in mind, other critters may find your pet’s winter quarters to their liking and can also get through pet doors. Avoid feeding outside pets in their sleeping area. Coons and possums will be attracted to the food, and you will end up feeding them instead of your pet. If possible, feed your pet inside on the back porch instead of leaving food outside.

Making sure your pet has fresh, unfrozen water can be challenging as temperatures fall. Heated water bowls work well and are easy to install. Outside pets will find water sources that can be harmful or potentially dangerous for them. Don’t allow your pet to drink from melted pools of water that could contain antifreeze, chemicals used as deicers on streets, or ice melt that was used on sidewalks. Antifreeze poisoning is serious and can be fatal to cats and dogs.

An outside pet burns a lot of calories trying to stay warm. If they eat primarily dry food, consider adding a premium quality canned food like the CANIDAE and FELIDAE Grain Free Salmon formulas to their diet, for extra calories during the winter months.

Stray cats or dogs can always use a helping hand during winter’s fury even though it’s not our responsibility to feed them. If you see a stray cat or dog, please be generous and give them some food, shelter and water, especially if it looks like they need someone to step in and give them a hand. Even though most lost pets or strays don’t understand someone is trying to help, they will appreciate a small bowl of food and water left in an out of the way spot just for them. They could have a family who is looking for them or had circumstances beyond their control that left them homeless. If you have a no kill shelter in your area, consider calling them. In most cases, they will send someone to try and capture the cat or dog and will take it back to the shelter.

Most outside pets can get through winter safely provided they have proper shelter with warm, dry bedding, and plenty of fresh unfrozen water. However, outside pets should be brought inside during periods of extreme cold or heavy snowfall. Cats and dogs feel wind chill just like humans do, and have the same risk of frost bite and hypothermia. Plan now so your outside pet will be well cared for when those winter winds begin to howl.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Winter Care for Pets


By Linda Cole

October is quickly coming to a close, and for those in the northern part of the country, chilly winds are stripping red, orange and yellow leaves from trees and leaving only memories of a warm summer sun. The first freeze withers garden plants, flowers and grass. Winter will be here all too soon, and it’s time to start thinking about winterizing the house, the car and your pets. Winter care for pets can help them endure the coldest days ahead and help keep them safe.

Cold and snow can be rough on pets who spend most of their time inside. Dogs need to go outside, and it’s easy to forget they aren’t used to being in the cold for extended periods of time. They may have fur coats, but what nature gave them isn’t always suitable against freezing temperatures. I had a dog who would get so cold, his teeth chattered. If you see your dog shivering, he is cold. Hypothermia and frost bite are real possibilities for a pet who has been outside too long, and they are affected by a wind chill and cold.

Include coats or sweaters on a winter care list for dogs. Don’t be afraid to put coats on your dogs when they go outside. Unlike some people, dogs don’t have a macho ego that prevents them from being practical. My dogs want their coats on because they have learned they are warmer with them on. You can find a good selection of coats online at most retail pet sites.

It’s been my experience that more than one coat is needed. I dress my dogs in layers when they go outside in winter, because that’s the best way to help them stay warm. I have sweatshirts that go on first, then homemade quilted fleece jackets and finally, a waterproof, windproof dog blanket that goes on top for the really cold windy days.

Dogs lose heat through their paw pads and ears. When it’s really cold, quality dog booties will help them stay warm and ward off frostbite. However, it’s hard to find ear muffs or hats for dogs. I’m not a seamstress, but have learned how to make quilted fleece coats with hoods that help keep their ears warmer.

If you live in an area where the temperatures fall below zero with wind chills that can make it feel even colder, your dog will appreciate booties and coats once they get used to them. A combination of extreme cold and snow can quickly freeze unprotected feet. If you see your dog or cat not moving, or picking up one leg and then another, you should get them inside immediately. This is a sign that their feet are too cold.

Dogs and cats who spend most of their time inside should always be supervised when they are outside. Winter care for pets requires our watchful eye whenever they are outside. Coats and booties help, but our pets can’t tell us when they are cold. We need to pay attention to them and watch for signs like shivering, standing in one spot and not moving, or limping. A good rule to go by is if you are cold, your pet probably is too, and it’s time to go inside. Prevent frostbite or hypothermia before it happens.

Older or sick pets are affected by cold weather more than healthy ones. Pets who suffer from arthritis will usually feel more stiffness and move slower during winter months. It’s important to make sure they have soft, warm bedding they can lay on, away from drafts. Walks with an older dog should be kept short. Make sure they don’t slip on ice or snow which could put unnecessary stress on already stiff joints, and could injure them more.

Snow, ice, rock salt spread on sidewalks and chemical deicers used on city streets can collect in and on the pads of cats and dogs. Clean their paws once they are inside, because licking the rock salt and chemical ice melt from their paws can make them sick, as well as cause painful chapping and cracking pads.

Cats prefer warmth over cold. Make sure their bed is in a warm room away from drafts, fireplaces and electric space heaters. Unnecessary fires can be avoided by making sure your cat is not allowed near fireplaces or allowed to lay on or next to space heaters. Be careful using candles – a cat’s curiosity can end with an overturned candle that is still lit.

Winter care for pets is important. Don’t let cold temperatures stop you from going outside with your dog or cat and enjoying the beauty and fun of a new snowfall. With appropriate cold weather precautions, the fresh air and romps in the snow are good for our pets and us.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.