How to Keep Pets Safe From Weather

Follow these veterinarian tips for protecting your pets during summer and winter.
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Veterinarian Karen Halligan offers advice on keeping your pets comfortable no matter what the temperature is outside.

General Tips

  • If your pet spends a lot of time outdoors, be sure to provide it with adequate shelter. It should be large enough for them to turn around in but small enough to keep them warm. Elevate it a few inches off the ground and spread around some wood chips or hay inside to keep it cozy and warm. Change the chips frequently (twice a week if possible). A hot-water bottle wrapped in a towel is another way to add gentle heat to your pet's shelter.
  • Use common sense. If it is too hot or cold for you, it is probably too hot or cold for your pet.

Winter

  • Your pet's paws are particularly sensitive. Coat them with petroleum jelly or cooking oil to protect them and keep them from accumulating snow.
  • Wipe your pet's feet after taking them for a walk in snow that might have been treated with chemicals used for melting snow.
  • Always use a leash when walking your dog in the snow because dogs can lose their scent and get lost.
  • Cats will seek the warmth of a car engine in the cold. Honk or hit the hood a couple of times before starting the car to scare away a cat that might be perched inside.

Summer

  • Keep your dog cool in the summer by wetting down a bandana and placing it in the freezer to chill. Tie around your pet's neck once frozen.
  • Pets can get sunburned so be sure to apply a sunscreen to your cat or dog before a long period of exposure to the sun. Use one with an SPF of 30 and mix it with a little petroleum jelly to help it stay put. Don't forget a dog's nose and the tips of a cat's ears.
  • Rabbits are in the greatest danger of overheating in the summer. Even in the shade they can be in danger. The best thing to do is bring them indoors if possible.
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