Winter weather, especially in Kansas, poses unique hazards to your pet’s wellbeing. To learn how to keep your pet safe when the weather is brutal, read our Red Oak Animal Hospital team’s comprehensive Kansas winter pet health guide covering everything from optimal home setups to wellbeing hacks.

Keep your pet cozy at home

Although your pet has a fur coat, you need to set up your home to keep your four-legged friend comfortable when the weather is cold. Set up their bed away from drafts and large windows. If your pet likes to burrow, level up the coziness with some extra blankets.

During winter’s worst weather, even outdoor pets might need to come inside. Limit the amount of time your pet spends outside and try to create a comfortable space for them, especially if they dislike spending a lot of time in the house. Even if you’re trying to keep your outdoor pet indoors for some of the winter months, make sure your outdoor shelters are well-insulated and well-ventilated.

Stock up on pet essentials

You never know what the weather has in store. To avoid unpleasant surprises, make sure you’re ready in the event you and your pet are stuck at home for a few days. Stock up on all necessary supplies such as food, treats, and medicine. 

Prepare for bathroom breaks. If your pet handles their business outside, designate an area as close as possible to the house and shovel the area so that your pet can do their business outside without risking hazardous conditions. If you have a cat, make sure you have enough litter to last for several days. 

If you’re stocking up on antifreeze or deicer, remember these usually include chemicals, such as ethylene glycol, which are toxic to pets. To help prevent your pet from ingesting toxins, use pet-friendly winter weather home products. Always store household products out of your pet’s reach and clean up any accidental spills immediately. 

Winter health issues in pets

The best way to keep an eye out for winter health issues in pets is through hyperawareness. During the winter months, your pet is exposed to unique and potentially dangerous products that could be harmful to their health. Your pet can easily ingest a poison by licking their paw after walking on antifreeze or deicer. Bring your pet to Red Oak Animal Hospital or your nearest emergency hospital immediately if they exhibit these poisoning signs:

  • Seizures
  • Frequent urination
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy

Cold weather can also instigate other pet health problems. Contact our team or your nearest emergency hospital immediately if your pet exhibits any of the following signs:

  • Abnormal breathing
  • Excessive shaking
  • Cold extremities such as their paws

Winter exercise for your pet

Although outdoor time is often limited due to inclement conditions, it is important to help your pet stay as active as possible. 

Plan your walks for the warmest time of the day. Before venturing outdoors, start with a warm-up to get your pet’s muscles flexing and their blood pumping. Once outside, try to increase your pace gradually so your pet doesn’t hurt themselves by going too quickly. Set the length of your walk based on how cold the weather is to avoid overexposure.

Some days, however, you’ll just have to stay home and increase your pet’s indoor activity. Adapt your game of fetch to your home’s space and exercise your pet’s brain with treat toys or puzzles. 

Winter pet grooming 

Keeping your pet’s coat and paws in tip-top shape during the winter is essential. However, winter care will differ from your pet’s usual grooming routine.

During the winter, limit the number of baths your pet has. Too many baths can strip your pet’s skin of natural oils, leaving them dry and itchy. When you do bathe your pet, make sure to use moisturizing conditioner and wait until they’re fully dry before going outside.

Avoid shaving your pet’s coat, but do trim and brush their hair regularly. You don’t want to interfere with the natural insulation your pet’s coat provides, but you still want to prevent their fur from matting and getting dirty.

If your pet’s natural coat isn’t enough, add another! A coat or sweater is a great way to keep your pet extra warm—and extra cute. However, ensure your pet is comfortable wearing clothes. Pacing, panting, or trying to remove the garment are all signs your pet is uncomfortable and shouldn’t be wearing clothing.

Clean your pet’s paws after every walk to remove ice or rocks from between their toes and check for irritation. While outdoors during the winter, your pet may walk on toxic chemicals, so wash and dry your pet’s paws as soon as you get inside the house. Keep in mind that both the cold weather and frequent washing can leave your pet’s paw pads dry and irritated. Use a pet-safe moisturizing balm to occasionally replenish the moisture in their paws. You can take extra precautions by outfitting your pet in boots, just keep an eye out for discomfort signs.

Winter can seem daunting, but once you know how to prep, prevent, and respond to various cold-weather conditions, your pet is set! Remember, call our Red Oak Animal Hospital team if your pet exhibits winter weather health condition signs or if you have additional questions about pet winter weather care.