CALS Wellness Committee Tip: Keep your pets (and yourself!) safe during the winter season

Dogs can get hypothermia too! Wisconsin winter is here, and – as usual – has brought frigid temperatures and even colder wind chills. There’s a temptation to stay indoors, but for most people, we have to go outside to go to work, run errands, and take our furry friends out for their exercise. Just like us, our animals are affected by the cold weather and other hazards of winter.

Here are some tips to keep yourself and your pets safe during these chilly months:

  1. Bundle up! For yourself, make sure to wear winter-appropriate garb, including hat, mittens, and scarf. For your dog, this could include a sweater, vest, or outdoor jacket. Pet stores and other retailers stock many varieties that can make even the most clothing-averse animals warm and comfortable. Dogs may also benefit from breaks in grooming, as longer fur adds a protective layer for the cold.
  2. Choose appropriate footwear. Make sure to keep your feet warm in winter boots that can help retain traction if walking on slick sidewalks. Booties can help to protect pets’ paws from cold weather, snow and ice, and the ice melt that can get caught in fur and cause discomfort and burns
  3. Stay visible! As days are shorter and darker, try to avoid dark clothing and wear reflectors or lights that make yourself and your pet visible to traffic and pedestrians.
  4. Limit your outdoor time. Some of us could spend all day making snowmen, sledding, or participating in other winter activities, and so could many of our pets! While it is good to keep your walks shorter during this season, it is also important to keep your dog on a leash in snow or ice, as the cold weather can decrease their sense of smell. More dogs become lost in the winter than any other time of year!
  5. Take care of yourself at home. When returning to the warmth indoors, it can be easy to get lost under a blanket and forget to stay hydrated and safe. Make sure to rehydrate upon returning from activity, and do the same for your pet. Pets may also benefit from a thorough wipe-down, making sure to remove any ice melt chemicals from the paw area that could be toxic if ingested.