We seldom have severe winters in Conroe, but if a cold January snap hits, or you travel with your pet to a colder climate, you’ll need to know how to keep your furry family member safe. Follow our checklist of tips to avoid pet problems in severe winter weather.
#1: Pets belong inside in severe cold weather
A good rule of thumb—if you don’t feel comfortable outside, your pet won’t. When you check the forecast, always note the “feels like” temperature, which factors in the wind chill and relative humidity. Outdoor pets in Conroe are not acclimated to severely low temperatures, and sudden shifts can make pets susceptible to respiratory disease. Pets left outside in the severe cold can also develop hypothermia and frostbite, especially of the extremities, such as ear tips and paws. Smaller pets, older pets, and puppies, and pets with short or thin hair coats, are most at risk.
#2: Limit pets’ necessary time outside, and use cold-weather gear
Pets need coats and gloves, the same as people. Warm sweaters or jackets are available in every pet size, but a water-resistant, lined coat provides the best protection. When the ground surface is cold, or covered in snow or ice, plus salt and de-icing chemicals, pets need paw protection. Waterproof booties with grips work best, but if your pet will not tolerate booties, consider using paw wax, which forms a dense but breathable barrier to help protect paw pads.
#3: Baby your senior pet more in cold weather
Older pets are more susceptible to the cold, and will benefit from orthopedic beds with plenty of padding. If your senior pet has arthritis, ensure they receive pain medication and joint supplements regularly, as directed by our veterinarians. Less pain means increased activity, and therefore decreased stiffness. For pets with severe mobility issues, use a lifting harness or support sling to help prevent falls. Older pets are at higher risk of bone and joint injuries from slips or falls on ice.
#4: Ensure your pets don’t ingest salt and de-icers
Some de-icers are pet-safe, but others are irritating and toxic, and swallowing only a few pieces of rock salt can lead to salt poisoning in pets. Pets may ingest salt when they lick or groom their paws after a walk, so always wash booties and wipe down paws and underbellies. Salt toxicity signs include excessive thirst, vomiting, diarrhea, incoordination, tremors, and seizures. Call our Stone Ridge veterinarian if your pet may have ingested salt or de-icer.
#5: Beware of antifreeze danger to your pet
Pet-safe antifreeze is available today, but antifreeze that is highly toxic to pets is still used often. The toxic component, ethylene glycol, causes kidney failure that can be fatal to pets. Early treatment can help, but antifreeze poisoning often goes unnoticed until it’s too late. Keep pets away from any liquid that has pooled beneath a car, and never let pets roam.
#6: Be prepared for severe weather emergencies
In our part of Texas, we may not get blizzards, but ice storms can wreak havoc on our daily routines. Prolonged power outages often mean lack of home heat, so be prepared with a severe weather emergency plan for your family, including your pets.
- Plan an evacuation route — If you are ordered to evacuate, be aware that most public emergency shelters do not allow pets, usually with the exception of service, guide, and hearing dogs, so planning ahead and knowing where your pet will be welcomed is crucial.
- Carry a pet emergency kit — Southern states don’t experience much snow, so roads are not routinely salted, but only a little ice can cause major traffic delays. If you are stuck in icy highway conditions, or forced to shelter away from home, be prepared with an emergency kit for your pet as well as for you. For your pet, stock a waterproof transportable container with at least three days of canned food with pop-top lids, water, medications, veterinary records, and a current pet photo for identification.
- Set up a pet buddy system — Should you become stranded in severe weather and cannot get home, you should have arrangements with someone you trust to take care of your pets if necessary. Ideally, that person knows your pet, and lives in walking distance from your home. Also, ensure your pet buddy has our Stone Ridge office phone number.
When the weather outside is frightful, call the caring team at The Pet Resort at Stone Ridge. We can help address any concerns that arise about cold weather safety for your pet.