Winter Safety Tip for Your Pet


Oh the snow! Some dogs love to play in the white stuff. While it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement, pet owners need to take extra care to keep pets safe and warm from these and other winter hazards. 


Like people, frostbite in dogs is most common on extremities such as ears, tails, and paws. Signs of frostbite include pain, discolouration of the skin, and swelling. If you suspect frostbite, seek veterinary care immediately. Do not massage the area; wrap your pup in warm – not hot – blankets for transport to your nearest emergency clinic. 


Hypothermia occurs when body temperature has dropped too low. Signs of hypothermia include shivering, weakness, slow shallow breathing, and being unresponsive. The very young, very old, small dogs, or dogs with very fine or thin hair coats are going to be more at risk to the effects of cold weather. If your dog is shivering outside, you better head inside. Remember to never leave your dog outside unsupervised in very cold temperatures. Similar to frostbite, if you suspect hypothermia, wrap your pup in warm – not hot – blankets and get them to a vet. 

Outdoor Hazards

Winter brings some specific risks such as frozen bodies of water, chemicals used to melt snow and ice, and antifreeze. It’s important to never assume your pet will know to stay off a frozen body of water. Keep dogs on leash in any areas with frozen water unless you are certain the ice will hold their weight. 

Some ice melting salts can be dangerous for pets. These salts can cause serious illness when ingested, but can also be very irritating on the skin. For your own property, look for pet-safe products. If you walk in areas where road salt is being used, take precautions to limit exposure. Use booties for walks or wash your pet’s feet after a walk and don’t allow them to lick ice or slush on their walks. 

Antifreeze is toxic and pets find its taste appealing. If you use antifreeze products, be sure to store them where pets cannot access them. 

Having a dog that loves to be outside in the winter makes the winter season more enjoyable. Keeping them safe will ensure you can have the best winter experience. If your pet has any issues or health concerns related to the winter weather (or any other emergency) the Veterinary Specialty Centre’s Emergency Services are available 24/7 every day. 

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