Man walks dog in Brooklyn Heights during a winter snowstorm‘Tis the season for a seemingly endless list of chores. Considering all there is to prepare for, we should all be ready for the ultimate test: a rough Illinois winter. Luckily, your pet has you to help them navigate the cold temps and bad weather. To ensure you’re ready for the coming months, The Pet Experts at Elmhurst Animal Care Center would like to review some important tips for winter pet safety.

The Foundation

Perhaps the best thing you can do for your pet this winter is to encourage him or her to stay inside where it’s safe, warm, and dry (especially senior pets). However, some pets prefer the outdoors no matter the temperature. In this case, be sure your pet has access to an insulated shelter, soft bedding, and fresh, unfrozen water.

Also consider the following:

  • Diet – may need some adjustments to stay at a healthy weight
  • Grooming – skip a winter haircut, a long coat may be extremely warm
  • Pet clothing – can provide much-needed insulation against cold and wind

Please call us to schedule an appointment. All pets benefit from a seasonal exam to monitor general wellness, exercise goals, physical limitations, and diet adjustments.

Ice Melt Toxicity

If you and your pet are up to it, feel free to maintain your regular outdoor exercise. Burning off energy not only helps mitigate winter weight gain, it also minimizes the seasonal blues.

However, be careful when walking outdoors. During the winter, ice melt (rock salt) is commonly used to keep sidewalks, streets, and driveways safe for humans. Unfortunately, these products are full of chemicals that are harmful to our pets.

Ice melt exposure can cause the paw pads to dry out, resulting in painful cracking and bleeding. To protect your pet, be sure to do the following:

  • Wash and dry your pet’s paws, belly, and legs as soon as you return home.
  • Use protective boots or anti-slip socks.
  • Trim the hair that grows between the toes and pads.

Winter Pet Safety and Common Poisons

If ingested, ice melt can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures. Depending on the amount consumed and the size of the pet, ice melt toxicity can even lead to death.

Most motorists also use antifreeze before and during the winter months, a product which is highly dangerous and often fatal to pets when ingested.

A Purr-fectly Safe Winter

Other tips for winter pet safety include:

  • Keep bags or containers of ice melt and antifreeze off the floor and behind a closed door.
  • Consider using pet-safe products such as Safe Paw.
  • Provide traction on your own pavement using sand, gravel, kitty litter, or wood ash.
  • Clean up antifreeze spills or leaks immediately; don’t allow your pet to drink from puddles.

Please contact The Pet Experts at Elmhurst Animal Care Center with any questions about winter pet safety. From all of us, we wish you and your pet a warm, cozy, accident-free season!