Category Archives: winter care for pets

Tips for Protecting Your Dog During Cold Winter Months

winter 4NeusBy Langley Cornwell

If you are cold, your pet is cold. It’s that simple. Yes, dogs have a fur coat and it’s true that many of the northern dog breeds seem to thrive in cold weather. However, if you’re sharing your life with any breed other than something like an Alaskan Malamute, an American Eskimo Dog, a Bernese Mountain Dog, a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, a Newfoundland, a Saint Bernard or similar, as a responsible pet owner it’s important to take extra precautions during the colder weather.

All dog breeds are vulnerable to hypothermia and frostbite. Never leave your pet outside in the cold without supervision.  As a general rule, it’s best to stay indoors as much as possible during inclement weather. Here are a few additional reminders for protecting your dog during the cold winter months.

Prepare the House

Because you and your companion animal will likely spend more time indoors, prepare your house. Make sure to section off any areas you don’t want your pet to go, especially areas that lead outside. Dogs may get lost easier in the winter because the ice and snow can mask recognizable scents and landmarks, thereby making it harder for your pet to find his way home. Be sure there are no open doors or windows that can let the cold in or your dog out.

If you use space heaters, keep them away from locations where happy, wagging tails can knock them over and potentially start a fire. Moreover, if you build a fire in the fireplace, make sure your pet cannot get too close to the flame. In general, do your best to pet-proof your home.

It’s also important to offer a warm place to which your dog can retreat. A cozy dog bed that’s in a warm area, preferably up off of the floor and away from drafty windows and doors is the best scenario.

winter derek purdyTake Shorter Walks

Be aware that cold weather can exacerbate certain physical limitations, especially in older and arthritic dogs. It’s a good idea to take shorter walks during the winter and try to stay away from frozen, icy patches. Some dogs may need a coat or sweater when outdoors in the winter, not to make a fashion statement but for warmth. Dogs with short hair will obviously get colder faster, but many of us don’t give the same consideration to dogs with short legs. Think about it; shorter legs mean his body is closer to the cold ground so he will get chilled more quickly.

Also remember that dogs with conditions like Cushing’s disease, heart or kidney disease, diabetes, or hormonal imbalances have a hard time regulating their body temperatures so they benefit from shorter, more frequent walks during the winter.

Give a Thorough Wipe-Down

After your walk, take the time to wipe off your dog’s paws, legs and belly when you first come inside. Many cities and counties use salt, deicers, antifreeze or some other types of toxic chemicals to help melt the snow and ice. These chemicals can irritate your pet’s feet. Furthermore, you don’t want your dog to lick his paws and ingest these substances. Likewise, it’s important to inspect your pet’s paw pads to make sure he didn’t cut himself on ice shards or broken glass.

Monitor Food and Water

Your dog should maintain a healthy weight throughout the winter. If he is less active than in the warmer months, you may have to adjust the amount of food he consumes. Make sure he has the proper amount of a nutritious, high quality dog food like CANIDAE, as well as plenty of fresh water during the winter months.

Be Responsiblewinter patti haskins

Sadly, not everyone is a responsible pet owner. If you happen to see a pet left outside during frigid weather, take action. Document the address, date, time, circumstances, type of animal and anything else you think is pertinent. If possible, take photographs or a video of the situation. Then call the authorities – a local animal control agency, the police or sheriff’s office, etc. – and report the situation.

On another day, go back to the location and see if that poor animal is still out in the cold. If so, respectfully call the agency back and make a second report. Please be the voice of those who cannot speak.

Have a happy and healthy winter!

Top photo by 4Neus/Flickr
Middle photo by Derek Purdy/Flickr
Bottom photo by Patti Haskins/Flickr

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell

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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.