How to protect your pets this winter season

Tips on how to make sure your pet keeps warm this cold season.

The Windsor/Essex County Humane Society says to bring in your pets this winter

Dog on sidewalk in boots and a jacket
Beverly is ready for the winter, wearing a coat and booties which will keep her warm during the cold weather. (Kerri Breen/CBC)

As the ice, snow and cold weather has begun, the Windsor/Essex County Humane Society has advice for keeping your pets safe and warm.

If you have pets that live outdoors, bring them inside, said Melanie Coulter, the executive director. For those who can't do that, she said it's important to make sure animals are prepared for the colder weather.

"Cats, you really want to make sure that they're not crawling up into car engines. Give your the roof of your car or the hood of your car at a tap before you start," she said, which should scare them out of any hiding places.

For dogs, Coulter said to make sure they have adequate shelter, food and water.

"That [fresh water] is one of the legal requirements. If your dog is living outside you have to make sure that they have access to fresh water and that means not frozen water," she said.

To make sure shelters for pets are safe, Coulter said to not use blankets, which can get wet, freeze, then no longer act as insulation. She said to use straw instead, which can still be picked up at farm supply stores in the area.

Dog breeds like malamutes and huskies love the cold weather. Coulter said to pay attention to the dog's needs. If they're outside for a longer period but are still running around and looking for you to play, they're fine. She said to keep an eye on them while they are outside playing.

After the snow, comes the salt. Coulter said after walking your dog, it's best to wipe them off with a towel. That way, any ice in between the toes or salt will be removed.

"If they'll tolerate booties, those can be really helpful, just for preventing issues. But a lot of dogs are not a fan of booties," she said.

She said to also make sure you're aware of what ice melter you are using on your property, because that's likely what your pets will be walking on the most.

The Ontario SPCA and Humane Society has shared information about tips for winter care for dog's paws and skin. It recommends:

  • Winter grooming, like keeping nails trimmed, brushing your dog's coat and applying moisturizing balm to dog's paws.
  • Keeping paws clean by wiping down and cleaning paws after walks.
  • Humidify. Dry air inside your home can cause dogs to develop itchy, flaky skin.
  • Fewer bath times. Frequent washing can remove oils, which will dry out dog's skin.
  • Paw protectors. Having dogs wear boots can protect them from chemicals.