Little-known winter pet health dangers

Cold weather dangers

We all know that extreme cold can be a threat to our pets’ health in the winter. However, there are some other threats that can’t afford be overlooked. Here are some other winter pet health dangers to keep in mind:


Don't let your pet overheat!

The winter months may seem an odd time to think about overheating and burns; however, that’s what makes it a timely topic for concern.

A pet’s temperature normally ranges from 100.5 – 102.5 F to begin with. During winter, many of our pets are in our homes. Home heaters and a lack of circulation can make for some pretty stagnant air. Make sure your pet isn’t confined in a place with limited space that could overheat.

This can be especially true if you travel with your pet in a car during cold days. We tend to roll up the windows and crank up the heat. Aside from having higher natural temperatures, our pets are also continuously expelling heat as they pant! Lowering a rear window during the winter may be just what your pet needs to keep from overheating.

Space heaters, wall heaters and heating blankets can all cause a problem as well.  Please do not use electrical appliances to warm your pet, as they can be dangerous.

If you wash your pet indoors during the winter months, you also need to pay attention to the heat brought on by hair dryers. Do not use them in confined places even during the winter. If your home is heated, a towel dry and a blanket should suffice until your pet is dry.


Pets can become dehydrated in winter.

Your pets need just as much water intake during the winter as they do in the summer. In fact, with many of these heat factors in place, they may even need a little more. Winter is the perfect time to pay attention to your pet’s hydration!  To test your pet’s hydration level, grab the skin on the back of your pet’s neck, in the manner you would scruff a cat, and release it. If it takes more than one to two seconds for the skin to fall back in place, your pet may be suffering from dehydration.  You can mix half plain Pedialyte and half water to help bring your pet’s electrolytes back into balance. Make sure to always tell your veterinarian your concerns about your pet’s hydration levels.

Weight Gain

Your pet's food may need to be adjusted in winter.

Weight gain is common during winter months as many people keep their pets on the same food regiment. However, you may want to consider modifying your pet’s food intake. Speak with your veterinarian about feeding recommendations for a pet with less activity.

Consider your pet’s activity level too, or more accurately his/her lack of it! Not only does weather cause us to stay indoors more but sometimes when we’re inside, it’s harder for us to get active and interact as well.

Spend time with your pet! Take 5 or 10 minutes a few times a day to play indoor games, practice commands and build on your pet’s training. Dogs especially love this as it challenges their minds and abilities. For cats, make sure you have interactive toys to keep your free of boredom and alert. Boredom brings an increase in unwanted behaviors and can contribute to weight gain

Environmental Dangers

Don't let your pet play in icy water.

We live in a world where there are many different environmental dangers. Use caution and common sense this winter. Don’t let your pet:

–          Walk or wade through waters

–          Walk on ice beds and lakes

–          Stay outside when it’s freezing

Cold temperatures can create frostbite, and frostbite is clinically a burn. If your pet suffers from frostbite, bring him/her inside. Do not “wipe” the area. Slowly increase your pet’s body heat.  Frostbite can cause hypothermia, which can cause bloat, a life threatening condition. Make sure you have your vet’s or a 24 hour emergency vet’s number on hand to help walk you through any emergencies.

The year’s end brings many holidays, and there are many holiday precautions when it comes to pets. Erring on the side of caution is always the best way to prevent disaster. Learn more about holiday safety at

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