Even though we don’t see temperatures nearly as frigid as those up north, Tennessee can still experience polar vortex effects. Prepping for winter weather is a necessity for both you and your pet. Check out our top tips to keep your furry friend safe and snug this season.


#1: Venture outside during the warmest parts of the day.

As soon as the sun drops below the horizon, the temperature takes a dip as well. Check the forecast and plan your outdoor activities accordingly to stave off frozen paws, ears, and tails.


#2: Plan fun activities indoors to keep boredom at bay.

People and pets alike can come down with a case of cabin fever when chilly temperatures keep us cooped up. Battle boredom this winter with some fresh activities. Teach new tricks, learn different games, and swap out old toys for new. Treat puzzles are a wonderful tool to keep your pet occupied and out of trouble all year long.


#3: Bundle up for walks.

Winter is the perfect excuse to do some shopping for your pup. Invest in a waterproof coat and booties to protect your furry friend from slushy snow and ice. Also, consider using a paw protectant, such as Musher’s Secret or Baely’s Paw Shield, to help keep your pooch’s paws safe from frostbite, irritation, ice, and salt.


#4: Protect against winter chemicals.

In addition to applying a paw balm barrier to shield against salt, be sure to choose a pet-safe cement deicer. Your dog may lick at her feet after her stroll along the sidewalk, and some deicing salts can be toxic to pets.


Also, be on the lookout for another dangerous winter chemical: antifreeze. Antifreeze that contains the toxic ingredient ethylene glycol can leak out of a car engine, creating a tempting puddle for your pet. Even a small amount can be fatal, harming the brain, liver, and kidneys beyond repair. If you suspect that your pet has ingested any amount of antifreeze, give us a call immediately.


#5: Ensure visibility during nighttime strolls.

With the daylight hours dwindling, walking your pet outdoors can create a nighttime hazard. Warn approaching vehicles of your presence by outfitting your pet in a lighted collar, harness, or leash, and add some illumination to yourself as well to maximize visibility. For nighttime trips to your fenced-in yard, a lighted collar allows you to keep tabs on your dog while she does her business outside. If the unthinkable happens and your pup takes off on a cold winter night, a lighted collar will also help you spot her roaming through the neighborhood more quickly.


#6: Be prepared for emergencies.

Even though winters in Tennessee are much milder than those up north, power outages and emergency situations can still occur. Pack an emergency kit, making sure to include medications, food, water, bowls, bedding, a crate or carrier, and any other essentials for your pet.


#7: Groom for the weather.

Some pets require frequent grooming to prevent tangling and matting, but avoid shaving your furry companion in the winter. A well-groomed hair coat provides excellent insulation by allowing air to circulate correctly, so be sure to stay on top of your brushing schedule. Also, avoid ice collection between the paw pads by keeping the hair around your pet’s toes trimmed short.


#8: Block off access to fireplaces and wood-burning stoves.

Snuggling up next to a roaring fire is a highlight of the winter season, but keep an eye on your warmth-seeking companion. Fires can spark and quickly singe fur. Very young or very old pets are not capable of regulating their body temperature as well as adult animals and can easily overheat if they are unable to move away from space heaters, fireplaces, or stoves. Check the temperature of your pet’s resting area to ensure it remains comfortable.


#9: Provide comfort for arthritic pets.

Just like humans, pets suffer more arthritis-related pain and stiffness during cold weather. Support stiff joints with extra padding, warm resting areas, joint supplements, and veterinary-approved pain medications as needed.


#10: Be aware of the signs of hypothermia.

Attempting to get a cold-loving husky or malamute back into the warm indoors can be quite challenging. Although these animals are bred for frigid conditions, all pets should be closely monitored during their time outdoors. Signs of hypothermia include slow and shallow breathing, shivering, muscle stiffness, and weakness.

Think your pet has slipped into an icy situation this winter? If so, give our hospital a call.