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Pets & People - Keeping Your Pets Warm During The Winter Months

We may admire our pets’ plush coats, but believe it or not, fur may not be enough to keep them warm when it’s very cold outside. For cats and dogs with short fur, the protection is even more minimal, “sort of like wearing a T-shirt when it’s below freezing,” says Marla J. McGeorge, DVM. And, if your four-legged friend’s coat gets wet, the fur loses much of its insulating ability. Follow the tips below to keep your pets safe and warm this winter.

Leave your pets’ coats a little longer in the winter to provide more warmth. That summer haircut from your groomer should be avoided during cold weather. If you have short-haired breeds, consider getting them a coat or sweater that covers them from neck to tail and around the abdomen.

  • When walking your dogs during bad weather, keep them on leash. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season.
  • Many pets like to play in the snow but beware of salt and chemicals people use on their sidewalks and driveways. Thoroughly clean your pets’ paws, legs, and abdomen after they have been outside. These products can also burn pads and the sensitive skin between their toes. Massaging petroleum jelly or other paw protectants into paw pads before going outside can help protect from salt and chemical agents. Dog boots are effective at protecting your pet’s feet from snow and ice as well as de-icing products, which can make your dog sick if he licks it off his paws.
  • Antifreeze tastes sweet to pets, so clean up any spills or leaks immediately. Ingesting even small amounts can be deadly.
  • You never know when you might be without power or be stranded at home for a couple days due to winter storms. Keep your pet preparedness kit well-stocked and ready. Items to include are leashes; pet carrying cases; bowls; sanitation materials; chew toys; a minimum of three days of food, meds, and water; your veterinarian’s contact information; and a photo of your pet.

Unless your dog is a Northern breed, remember that if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your animals, so keep them inside. In addition, don’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather.


Gifts for Pet Lovers

Not all animal lovers have pets of their own—and if that’s the case, a Symbolic Adoption Kit from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) makes for a great gift. 

Instead of adopting an actual animal, your money goes to help save animals in the wild, and your friend or loved one will receive a stuffed plush animal along with an adoption certificate and species card. Options include an Amur tiger, African elephant, emperor penguin, leopard, octopus, and polar bear—choose from more than 100 different animals. Every purchase supports WWF’s efforts to protect endangered animals worldwide. If you’re unsure of which animal to pick, you can opt for a gift card. 

For more information, go to

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