Protecting Your Pets During Severe Winter Conditions

As the Missouri winter sets in, pet owners must be vigilant in keeping their animals warm and safe during the coldest months of the year. The frosty weather requires extra layers during dog walks and snug shelters for outdoor pets.

But pet safety isn’t just about frostbite prevention; it’s also about being prepared for car travel in icy conditions. A sudden crash can be dangerous, and only 55% of dog owners use a restraint when bringing their dogs along on car rides in the U.S.

Knowing how to protect your pet in the colder months, including at home and in your vehicle, can keep you both safe in Missouri’s harsh winters.

Protecting Your Pet in Winter: Indoor and Outdoor Safety Tips

Protecting your pet’s well-being in winter is essential to keep them healthy and happy. Here are some indoor and outdoor safety tips to help ensure your pet stays warm during the colder months:

  • Protect their paws. Dog paws can be sensitive to cold and chemicals. Consider putting dog booties on your pup’s paws for winter walks. For outdoor cats, create a pet-safe de-icing zone around your home to protect their paws from salt melt and the cold.
  • Provide a cozy, dry place to rest. Set up an insulated shelter with a waterproof roof for outdoor pets and raise it off the ground. Line it with plenty of straw or warm blankets for bedding. Make sure the entrance is covered with a flap to keep out drafts.
  • Ensure access to unfrozen water. Always keep fresh water available for your pet. Use a heated bowl to prevent freezing, or change the water frequently to maintain a drinkable supply.
  • Monitor weather and comfort. Be attentive to the cold and your pet’s behavior. If your pet seems uneasy in the lower temps, it’s time to bring them indoors for warmth. Dogs with thicker coats, like Huskies, may tolerate cold better than those with short coats, like Boxers; however, all pets have their limits and need monitoring for signs of discomfort.
  • Keep pets away from heat. For indoor pets, place barriers or screens around fireplaces and heaters to prevent your pets from getting too close. This helps avoid the risk of burns or potential house fires.
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia. Observe your pets for signs of hypothermia, which happens when your dog’s body temperature drops below 99° F. Symptoms include shivering, anxiety, or reluctance to keep moving. These are cues that they need to be warmed up immediately.

Traveling with Your Pets in Winter

Ensuring your pet’s safety during road trips is crucial for both your peace of mind and the welfare of your animal companion. This includes precautions for freezing weather and restraints to protect against crash injuries to you and your pet.

Here are a few safety tips for car rides with your dog in winter:

  • Ensure your pet is safely restrained. Using a crash-tested pet restraint like a pet carrier or safety harness in the car is essential for everyone’s safety. At 50 mph, a 10-pound dog could hit with a force of up to 500 pounds; at 30 mph, an 80-pound dog might hit with as much as 2,400 pounds of force.

Without a restraint, a sudden stop or accident could cause your pet to become a projectile if you skid on icy roads or get hit by another driver. Keeping your pet harnessed can prevent severe injury to both of you.

  • Avoid leaving your pet in the car unattended. In winter, parked cars offer no insulation from freezing temperatures. This puts your pet at risk of hypothermia if left alone for too long. Take them with you when you leave the vehicle, even for short periods.
  • Prepare a winter pet emergency kit. Assemble a winter emergency kit for your pet to ensure they’re equipped for any delay or crisis. Include a warm blanket for heat, fresh water to prevent dehydration, and essential medications your pet might need.
  • Regulate the vehicle’s internal temperature. Maintain a steady temperature in the car to keep your pet comfortable. Be alert for signs of overheating, like excessive panting or agitation, which can be just as harmful as the cold.
  • Feed your pet several hours before traveling. Feed your pet a few hours before setting out on your trip to give them time for proper digestion. This will help reduce the chances of motion sickness and keep them comfortable while traveling.
  • Plan regular stops for long journeys. Stop for regular exercise and bathroom breaks for your pet during the trip. It alleviates their boredom and anxiety, keeping them settled.
  • Safeguard your pet’s paws during breaks. Salt and deicers on sidewalks can lead to chapped paws or pose a risk if ingested through licking. Equip your dog with protective booties or apply a non-toxic paw balm, and clean their paws after exposure to treated surfaces to prevent these dangers.

Get Legal Help After a Winter Weather Crash

Winter in St. Louis brings hazardous driving conditions, and an accident, particularly one due to another’s negligence, can result in significant medical costs and emotional turmoil.

At Cofman Townsley, our St. Louis personal injury lawyers can provide experienced legal guidance after a crash. We are committed to examining your case thoroughly, assisting in filing a claim against the at-fault driver and advocating for the compensation you deserve for your accident-related losses. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.