Keeping Your Pets Safe This Winter

Posted January 10, 2017
By Dave Rusch, Brambleton Community Association Facilities & Grounds Manager
A furry resident of Brambleton plays in the snow at Legacy Park.
With winter months comes dry and chapped skin. One of the main reasons this happens is due to the lack of humidity in your environment. Today many houses have built-in humidifiers in the HVAC system that add humidity to the air in your house. For the Brambleton area, a good range for your house would be anywhere between 30-50 percent of humidity. While humans can use lotion to increase moisture levels, thus relieving the burning or itching that occurs, we often forget that our pets can have similar reactions to low humidity levels.
Pet’s paws and pads are just as sensitive to becoming dry or even cracked. For them the exterior elements play an ever-bigger part in this, from spending time outside during walks
at freezing temperatures to exposure to ice melting agents. Remember that prolonged exposure to any ice melting agent can irritate exposed skin, not only for your pets but yours, too. So, brush your pet’s paws off after walking across any applied melting agents. Also at home inspect your pet’s paws for irritation, cracks, or packed snow between the toes. Use a warm wet towel to clean paws when returning from a walk. It is best to do this as soon as you return so your pet doesn’t start licking them, which could possibly irritate their mouth with the same irritant on that’s on their paws. Trim their fur around the paws to limit the likelihood of snow becoming packed in them.
Know your pet’s limitations; tolerance to cold weather will vary by pet, and you need to be aware when your pet has reached that point. A couple of great tips to keep your pet safe during these winter months recommended by The Humane Society of America and the ASPCA are to:
• Take shorter, but more frequent walks with your pet for exercise and allowing them to do their business.
• Wrap your pet; use functional sweaters or jackets on your pet. They are easy to put on and takeoff, and keep your pet warm.
•Massage petroleum jelly or similar paw protectants into the paw pads prior to going outside.
•Feed your pet a bit more in the winter since they burn extra energy, in order to keep their body temperatures up.
• Make sure they have a warm place to sleep and rest. Beds, blankets, or pillows for them to lay on or under will help them bring their body temperatures back up.