Winter has arrived, and with its entrance comes a whole new set of concerns for taking care of your pets.  While it’s true that they wear fur coats all of the time, animals can still suffer from weather-related injury and illness.

It’s best to keep your pet indoors during the coldest part of the year, if possible.  Cats especially can freeze to death, or they are killed while trying to find warmth, such as under the hood of a car.  If you do keep an animal outdoors, be sure that it has adequate shelter out of the wind and moisture.  Also make sure that it has access to fresh, non-frozen water at all times.  Animals that are trying to keep warm outdoors will also need extra calories to do so.

Never shave a pet that will be spending any time outdoors.  Short-haired animals may even benefit from wearing a sweater or coat when outside.  Very young and very old animals will have a lesser ability to keep themselves warm and should spend limited time in the cold.

Inside or out, be sure that your pet has a warm, comfy place to snuggle up.  Tiled or uncarpeted areas are often chilly!  Also, take care around space heaters and fireplaces, which can be a hazard for cold or curious pets.

Wipe your pet down after it comes in from the outdoors to remove any moisture or harmful chemicals, such as antifreeze, or rock salt from its coat and paws.  You should pay close attention to your pet’s paws as they may become chapped or even cut on icy, uneven ground.  Animals that have long hair in between their paw pads may need to have the area trimmed to prevent ice and snow from accumulating.

Overall, it is probably best to keep your pet indoors as much as possible during cold snaps.  Pets can suffer frostbite and hypothermia just as people can.  Long, unsupervised time outdoors increases the likelihood of these things occurring.  Play it safe and keep your pet warm this winter!