We may not see much snow here in Southaven, Mississippi, but temperatures do sometimes dip to levels that chill pets and people. Also, some local people travel to snowy areas for outdoor winter adventures, and take their furry friend along. Since pets and their owners in our area often aren’t familiar with cold-weather hazards, check out the following 10 tips to keep your four-legged friend safe from harm this winter.

#1: Snow, ice, and cold temperatures can seep through your pet’s fur coat

While a snowstorm would be rare, we can’t write off freak blizzards in our area. Holiday travel plans may also take you into snowy or icy conditions that are new to your pet, so take precautions. When venturing outdoors, keep in mind that your pet may have a fur coat, but it is likely too thin to protect her against snow, ice, and frigid conditions—breeds such as huskies and malamutes, who have thick coats, also cannot tolerate cold weather for long. Monitor your pet’s response to the cold, and bring her inside at the first sign of discomfort. 

#2: Your pet’s paw pads aren’t so tough

Although your pet’s paw pads may seem impervious to injury, they can be injured when you are trekking through snow, ice, or winter chemicals. After each trip outdoors, check the bottom of your pet’s pads for cuts, scrapes, or sore spots, and look for clumps of ice or snow that may have accumulated between her toes. 

#3: Choose functional over fashionable pet attire

If the temperatures dip to a chilly level, outfit your warm-weather-loving pet in cozy gear before heading outside. Protective booties will prevent snow and ice from harming your pet’s paws, while a waterproof vest will block snow from melting into her fur. 

#4: Watch out for winter toxins

Since we are not as familiar with major snowstorms as the northern parts of the country, we go all out to prevent traffic casualties at the mere threat of icy weather. Our area throws down a lot of salt to stave off slippery roads, and that ice melt can wash to sidewalks where your pet takes her daily stroll. Deicing chemicals, antifreeze, and sidewalk salt potentially threaten your pet’s health, so watch for these hazards and immediately wipe off accumulated salt from your pet as soon as you return indoors. 

#5: Check for stray pets under your vehicle’s hood

Don’t forget about stray pets who live outdoors and want heated resting spots. Feral or stray cats seek somewhere cozy, which often is your car’s warm engine. Bang on the hood and make lots of noise before starting your engine, to ensure strays dart to safety.

#6: Ensure your pet’s grooming routine is weather-appropriate

Skip the short summer haircut during cooler weather, as your pet will need her coat to trap heat. But, continue her regular brushing to avoid mats, and to disperse healthy skin oils to prevent dry skin. Also, trim long feathers on the backs of your pet’s legs, and her fluffy paws, to prevent snow and ice from clumping. 

#7: Take special care of senior pets

Like people, older pets suffer from aches and pains that come with aging joints. Osteoarthritis discomfort can flare in cold, wet weather, so offer your senior pet warm, padded resting areas to protect her joints. Schedule a “winter tune-up” for your furry friend to help ensure she stays comfortable this chilly season.

#8: Check your pet’s microchip

Pets rely heavily on their sense of smell to point them home if they become lost, but familiar scents can become buried under layers of snow and ice. Always ensure the contact information on file with your pet’s microchip company is up-to-date, and outfit her with a collar with current ID tags to ensure her safe return home should she escape outside during a snowfall.

#9: Be prepared for pet emergencies

People panic when faced with a potential weather disaster. Grocery store shelves quickly become bare, gas stations run out of fuel, and people batten down the hatches to prepare for the worst Mother Nature has to offer. If a potential winter storm has our area in its sights, prepare your family, including your pet, for an emergency situation. Stock up on your pet’s medications and food, as well as an ample supply of fresh water, to get her through a weather disaster. 

#10: Watch your pet’s weight

Getting outdoors and exercising can be tough during bad weather, so create fun indoor games to help your pet burn off her daily calories and avoid packing on extra weight. Many pet owners believe an extra layer of fat can benefit their pet in the winter, but pets are not wild animals, and they do not need a layer of blubber for protection from extreme temperatures. Extra weight can harm your pet’s health, so match her food intake with her activity level to maintain a healthy body weight in winter. 

Ensure your furry friend is in tip-top shape to handle winter weather. Call us to schedule a “winter tune-up” appointment.