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Tips for Pet Owners During Cold Weather

As the thermometer drops into the 30s and below, it’s time for some reminders for pet owners about protecting their pets during cold weather. With some preventative measures in dealing with the cold, many problems can be easily avoided. Some important wintertime tips to remember:

  • If it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside.
  • After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet and abdomen to remove ice, salt and chemicals—and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes.
  • Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. Dogs frequently lose their scent in snow and ice and easily become lost. They may panic in a snowstorm and run away. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season.
  • Use paw protectants (like petroleum jelly) on paw pads to protect against salt and other chemicals. If your dog will tolerate them, booties provide even more coverage and can also prevent sand and salt from getting lodged between bare toes and causing irritation.
  • Use pet-friendly ice melts whenever possible.
  • Antifreeze for your car is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle.
  • Cold and dry weather can cause itchy, flaking skin. Keep your home humidified and towel dry your pet as soon as he comes inside, paying special attention to his feet and in-between the toes.
  • Don’t cut your dog’s hair in winter. Longer coats provide warmth. If your dog is long-haired, simply trim him to minimize the clinging snow and ice.
  • If your dog is short-haired, consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly.
  • Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts.

In addition to these tips, we would like to remind pet owners that DC laws prohibit animals left outside longer than 15 minutes with temperatures below freezing. The law also defines adequate shelter for animals kept outside with temperatures below 40 degrees.

The bottom line: use these tips and your common sense when dealing with cold weather and pets.

Please call 202-723-5730 for all animal related emergencies, including animals left outside in extreme temperatures.


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