The Weather Outside is Frightful: Prepping our Pets for Winter

January 22, 2016

Kitsap Humane Society has a monthly column, “Pets and People” in the Kitsap Weekly. The column is published the third Friday of every month.

The Weather Outside is Frightful: Prepping our Pets for Winter
by Rebekah Johnson

I am a true Pacific North westerner; I do not like weather that cannot be described as “mild.” Too hot, too cold, too windy, no thank you! I will go trudging down a trail in the rain on a 50 degree day happily, but the moment I see a snowflake fall, I lock myself indoors. After being caught off guard by the first windstorm of 2015, I am determined to prepare my home and my family for what the winter might bring! That means prepping my pets for winter and the dangers the season can present.

When the temperature plummets, don’t forget about your Fidos and felines. Proper housing is essential for your pet’s well-being!

“This time of year our animal control officers receive several calls for animals who are left outside at all times of the day and with no shelter,” says Chase Connolly, Kitsap Animal Control Manager at Kitsap Humane Society.

Just because dogs and cats have fur, does not mean that our pets are immune to the threat of cold weather. When fur gets wet, it compromises the fur’s ability to insulate your pet. Also, much like a human’s nose, fingers and toes – a pet’s paws, nose and ears become susceptible to injury or frostbite in freezing temperatures. If you have a pet who loves to explore the yard, be aware of the temperature and limit your pet’s time outside during the winter.

Possibly you have a stubborn dog who won’t go outside in the cold weather to go potty? A question we are often asked at Kitsap Humane Society is how to help your pet go outside to relieve themselves during the winter months, we recommend putting straw down on a section or path of your yard over snow or mud so your picky dogs’ paws don’t get wet and cold.

Have an outdoor dog or cat?  Ensure that they have proper shelter; Kitsap County Code requires pet owners to provide “adequate shelter” for pets. This means providing outdoor animals draft free housing that is dry, warm and they can freely turn around in. Lay down straw for your pets to help keep them warm and check on them often to ensure they are dry, well-fed and have plenty of water. Don’t just take my word on the importance of prepping your pets for the winter – keep in mind you are obligated by law to provide warm and dry housing for your four legged-friends! Our Animal Control Officers are very nice people, but I am sure you would rather not have them knocking on your door with a citation in hand this year!

Cold weather is not the only danger to your pet during the winter months. Your garage potentially holds several dangerous substances that can endanger the lives of our pets! Coming home and realizing a pet has gotten their nose into a potentially toxic substance is terrible (and can lead to a VERY costly vet bill), I know this from personal experience! Our furry friends are often drawn to sweet substances; antifreeze can be irresistible to our pets and deadly as well. Store antifreeze with the lid tightly secured and away from your pets and check to make sure your car is not leaking antifreeze. It takes a very small amount to make a pet sick and simply licking anti-freeze off of their paws can make pets sick!

Last, but not least, a danger to our pets many never consider is road salt and other ice melting products. Road salt is recognized as a toxic substance and can cause your pet to suffer from inflammation and irritation. Road salt can irritate and crack our pet’s paws and when ingested through licking can also inflame the mouth and digestive system. If your pet walks on road salt, immediately wash your pet’s paws off and look into environmentally friendly ice melting substances to help treat your own property. My family uses pet friendly EcoTraction, but there are many other products out there!

Don’t let all these potential dangers to your pet give you the winter woes! Once you and your pets are prepared for the winter, you and your family should be able to enjoy the frosty mornings and cool evenings together in a safe and happy home. Happy Mew Year!