5 Winter Pet Problems and How to Prevent Them

With low temperatures hitting the thermostat, learn which pet problems you should be cautious about.

Dog running in snow

Photo by Thinkstock

Photo by Thinkstock

In the winter we’re always trying to keep our health in check but what about the health of our pets? “It’s so important to take special precautions of your dogs and cats during the wintertime,” says Rob Jackson, CEO and co-founder of Healthy Paws Pet Insurance. Here we break down the main pet concerns you should be on high alert for this season.

Hypothermia
When your pet’s body temperature is too low, specifically below 95 degrees he can experience hypothermia. Higher risk of this can occur if your pet’s fur is wet, so be extra careful when Fido is out playing in the snow. Symptoms include shivering, lethargy and listlessness. Keep your pet warm with a dog sweater or simply skip their daily walk and exercise your dog indoors with interactive toys.

Frostbite
If your pet is exposed to extreme cold conditions he can experience minor to severe frostbites ranging from red swollen extremities to blistering on the skin. “It is safe to assume that in temperatures below 32 degrees, your pet is better off not spending much time at all without proper footwear or a dog coat,” says Jackson. Just remember that the shorter your pet’s coat the more likely it is he will not tolerate the cold.

Antifreeze Poisoning
Beware of this ethylene glycol packed chemical. If you use it around your home, say to winterize your pipes, and your pet takes a lick, it can be hazardous. Antifreeze can taste sweet to your dog or cat and can also be addictive. Store any household or automotive chemicals in a safe place away from your pet.

Runny Nose
Pets, just like us, can catch the common cold, especially in the wintertime. If your dog or cat is coming down with the dreaded sniffles, use a humidifier so he can breathe easier and make sure to keep him well hydrated. If your pet has a pre-existing condition it may possibly complicate a cold. Make an appointment with your vet if it gets worse or you see no improvement.

Kennel Cough
If you board your pet during the winter or he is continuously exposed to low temperatures, he is at a higher risk of developing tracheobronchitis, an infectious canine illness. The main symptom you’ll notice is a honking cough. Make sure your pet is up to date with his vaccines—a kennel cough vaccine is available and can help prevent the problem from occurring.

Finally, just follow this rule of thumb: If the weather is simply too cold (even for you), think twice about taking your pet outdoors.