Winter Tips for Pet Safety


January 8, 2018





by LG Nixon

Baby, it’s cold outside! Winter has arrived in all its splendor with plenty of the white frozen concoction covering the ground enticing us to come out to play. Whether you and your pet spend a little or a lot of time outdoors, here are a few things to consider to keep your best friend safe and healthy before heading outside.
Pet ID info:
Be sure your pet’s collar is securely on, the tags are up-to-date, and if the pet is microchipped, be sure the registration is current and active. Dog’s can easily find their way home in the warm weather, but in winter those familiar smells he would use to navigate home are covered under layers of snow and ice. In the unlikely event you are separated from your buddy, current information can help get him home sooner.
When the body starts pulling heat from the extremities to keep the core warm, frostbite begins to damage toes, ears, tails and exposed belly skin. These areas can become so cold that ice crystals will form. Watch for discolored skin and tenderness. If your dog begins walking with a limp, or is acting uncomfortable, get them inside immediately. Frostbite is painful. Once an area has been frostbitten, it is very susceptible to recurring events, and exhibits increased pain in cold conditions. For more information, please visit to learn more.
While a healthy dog’s average body temperature ranges between 100 ̊ to     102 ̊  they are still vulnerable to cold temperatures. Hypothermia can be deadly. If your buddy has been outside too long and starts to shiver, whine, seem anxious or show signs of confusion or weakness, he is progressing through hypothermia. Get him somewhere warm and seek medical attention immediately. A good rule of thumb: if it’s too cold for you to be outside without a coat, it’s too cold to leave your buddy outside. And if your dog actually does live outside, he should have the ability to come inside when he wants to. Be extremely watchful of older dogs or dogs with illness as they are more likely to succumb to inclement weather. Go to for more information and safe winter tips to keep your pet healthy even if he lives outdoors.
Winter Gear:
Most pets live indoors with us and enjoy their comforts. While some dogs are
blessed with thick fur to keep them warm, most dogs, and especially dogs with thin coats, or little dogs, would do best to wear a sweater or jacket when outside or out for a winter walk. Even a thin layer gives extra protection against the elements for the pet who spends a lot of time indoors. Look for apparel with coverage from the neck to the base of the tail, and it should also protect the chest and belly. A well designed jacket I’ve used for my four-legged friends is made by Ruff Wear. This jacket is easy to slip on, zippers to a snug fit covering the chest and belly while the armholes offer plenty of room to maneuver and it is washable, has reflective stitching, and can easily be layered under another jacket if needed. When we adopted Tebow, his feet had been frostbit and he could no longer tolerate even a little bit of cold without a severe limp. We had difficulty getting him outside to do his bathroom duties, so we purchased him a set of winter booties to keep his feet warm. After that he was happy to go outside and even enjoyed playing in the snow. Ruff Wear also makes the Polar Trek Dog Boots. You can find these items and more at along with many other items to make your outdoor treks enjoyable. Or checkout the after Christmas markdowns at your favorite local pet supply store.
Chemical Hazards:
Be aware of salt and chemicals on driveways and pavements as these can burn your dogs feet, pieces can stick to the fur between the toes, and residue can make him very sick if he licks his paws or ingests a chunk of chemical. After completing your walk, be sure to rinse or wash your dogs feet to remove these chemicals. Go to and download their “How To Take Care Of Your Dogs Paws In The Winter” chart for quick reference and post it on your refrigerator. While some ice melts may be considered non-toxic, they can still make your pet sick. Roadway salt is highly concentrated, and with added chemicals formulated to keep ice away at much lower temperatures this means it is highly toxic to your pet. Don’t forget vehicles can leak antifreeze which smells very sweet but any exposure is deadly to your pet. Never allow your pet to drink from puddles, or eat or lick at ice along the pavement. Even a little bit of exposure to these deadly chemicals can lead to life threatening events such as pancreatitis, liver damage, seizures or death. Please go to for more information.

Winter is a special time of year, bringing a fresh perspective and unique outdoor activities. Have a snowball fight with your buddy and see how many snowballs he can catch, or go for a hike in the woods in search of squirrels to chase.

That never gets old – SQUIRREL!
Hey! It’s winter in Michigan – enjoy it!