Firstly, it is important to make sure that your pet is fit to travel. This includes making sure that it is cleaned, groomed, healthy, and follows basic obedience rules. Some preparations that you can make before the trip is to pack products that will help keep your pet warm, like blankets, cozy pet beds, and microwaveable heat pads. Retaining this body heat should help prevent frostbite or hypothermia in common places like the ear, nose, paws, and tips of the tail. Additionally, you should make sure that your car is pet friendly, meaning there should be nothing posing a serious risk of injury like sharp edges or tight corners. Smaller dogs can use a dog harness or carrier, while larger ones can fit into weighted kennels. Finally, make sure that you take frequent pit stops so that your pet can have a potty break outside rather than inside your vehicle!
Any other do’s and don’ts for winter travel with pets?
Do: Update your pet’s tags and chip information in the event that you become separated. Do: Create a cozy area for your pet with familiar smells and objects in order to emulate their normal home/safe space.
Don’t: Let pets ride shotgun. In the case of an accident, the airbags could seriously injure your pet, making the backseat the safest place for them.
Don’t: Leave your pet in the car, as freezing temperatures can be just as hazardous to your animals as warm weather can.
What are some winter activities I can partake in with my pet?
It’s important to keep your animals safe during the winter, but it is also important to let your animal companions have some fun. Before you partake in any activities, it’s important to be aware of the cold weather dangers that your pet will be exposed to depending on their health
status and breed. Certain dogs such as pugs, chihuahuas, or other short snouted/short haired dogs are more breed susceptible to an extended period outdoors, so they require more special attention than other breeds. Cold-weather breeds or more active breeds such as huskies, labs, retrievers, etc. are more suited for winter activities. Winter camping, hiking, and outdoor trick training are all relatively safe activities for most breeds, but if it gets too cold, it is highly recommended to bring your pet back inside. If your dog is over 35 pounds, athletic, healthy, full of energy, and at least 18 months old, one of the more ambitious winter sports you can partake in with them is “skijoring” where your dog pulls you by a harness attached to your waist while you ski. Before you participate, talk with experienced skijoring enthusiasts to acquire more safety knowledge about this rigorous sport as it can become unsafe.
What risks are there for pets during the winter season?
During the cold winter weather, pets are more susceptible to health injuries which can be caused by varying factors. When the wind chill quantity is too low, both cats and dogs can easily get frostbite and hypothermia when they spend extended periods of time outdoors in the below-freezing weather. According to the AVMA, pets with underlying conditions such as diabetes, hormonal imbalances, kidney disease, and heart disease may be less immune to cold temperatures which may also worsen their health conditions. Also, be careful when taking your pet on a stroll in the cold winter months as contact with the snow or ice can pose a threat to their delicate paws. It can increase the possibility of getting frostbite and cause their paw pads to dry, crack, and even bleed. Similar to chapped lips, this can be both bothersome and painful for your furry companion. Also, as the weather reaches colder temperatures, the use of antifreeze becomes more common. When the ethylene glycol gets metabolized into your pet’s body, it can cause severe poisoning or kidney damage. Make sure to keep your curious pets away from any antifreeze product or antifreeze spills as large amounts of antifreeze can cause coma and even death.