Keeping your pets safe during winter weather

Mariah Garcia Midlands Humane Society

We all know it’s a running joke in the Midwest that one day it can be 60 degrees and sunny and then the next day we could be in the middle of a winter storm. Regardless of what winter brings, it’s important to know that you’re keeping your pet safe in inclement weather and to keep in mind that pets will need extra protection when it comes to sub-zero temperatures.

Paws are a very sensitive part of your pet’s body and great care must be taken to prevent frostbite. Since there is no protective fur on their paw pads, they are more likely to experience frostbite when walking on snow and ice. If you notice your pet raising his paws when he’s outside to go potty or play for a while, that means it’s time to come inside to warm up. Paws can become chapped and chafed, just like your hands in the dry winter air. This is usually due to snow clinging to their fur after spending time outdoors and can cause the skin to crack and bleed. Keeping your pet’s skin well moisturized can help alleviate the discomfort of dry skin. Try a nice warm oatmeal bath or apply coconut oil to his coat to keep his skin healthy.

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Dogs (and cats) can wear protective coats or sweaters when outdoors, which will also help protect your pets from hypothermia when outdoors. Monitoring your pet to make sure it is not showing signs of hypothermia can save its life. Signs that your dog may be experiencing hypothermia include shivering, whining, curling up to try to stay warm, cold extremities such as ears, paws, and tail, and pale gums, all indicating that your canine companion may need immediate treatment. Take your pet inside and wrap him in a warm blanket and try giving him something warm to drink, like low-sodium chicken broth. Moderate or severe cases will require a visit to your vet.

As if you weren’t careful enough, another important item to keep in mind is the use of salt and melted ice where your pet will walk. The chemicals in commonly used melt can be extremely dangerous to your pet and can lead to salt toxicity or chemical poisoning. There are many types of pet-safe ice melters, but you will need to be careful when taking your pet onto public sidewalks or streets. You’ll be grateful you took the extra time to wipe their paws clean with a towel to help prevent skin irritation or potential grooming illnesses. If you are concerned that there is no pet-safe melting ice where your pet usually walks, you can purchase booties to help keep their paws protected. Anyone can even get a fun video watching them learn to walk in said booties!

There are many other factors that go into keeping your pets safe during the winter months, including proper grooming, supervising your pet near frozen bodies of water, and preventing dehydration. The ASPCA and the American Red Cross have great information on keeping your furry friend healthy and happy during these cold Midwestern months, and we recommend that you always research your pet’s needs before heading outdoors. A good rule of thumb is that if you are cold, chances are your pet is cold too.

lilo is a 6 month old spayed female Labrador mix who came to MHS with a broken hind leg that was severe enough to require amputation. She is a happy go-go girl who has adjusted very well to her new lifestyle and is ready to join her new family.

lucious He is a 6 year old neutered male Pit Bull mix. Don’t let his tough exterior fool you, he’s a big butt that moves and loves attention and can’t wait to be your new partner. He will have to be adopted from an area with no breed ban.

Marley is a 3-year-old neutered Cattle Dog/Basset Hound mix who is always happy and up for cuddles. He is looking for a house with an owner who is home most of the time, since he has separation anxiety. This is something his new family will need to work on through training and working with his vet to keep him under control.

Sissy she is an 8 year old spayed female miniature pinscher mix who is a sweet little girl who loves to be carried around like a princess. She will do better in a home without children, as they make her nervous and she does not like to be woken from her restful sleep.

MHS is open on Saturdays from 11 am to 5 pm, on weekdays from noon to 6 pm, and is closed on Sundays. You can view our adoptable pets online by visiting our website at

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