Preparing Your Pet for the Winter

Image of a cat and dog wearing winter sweaters.

This winter, while you curl up next to the fire with a cozy blanket, a good book and some hot chocolate, don't forget about your pet! Winter can play it rough with your pet and you have to look out for his health and well-being. Here are some preparations you should make to help your pet prepare for the winter.

Nutrition - Perhaps the most important consideration for preparing your pet for winter is nutrition. Outdoor pets in particular require more calories in the winter to generate enough energy to cope with cold. A high quality nutritionally balanced diet is adequate to meet these increased demands, therefore most pets will not require supplementation with vitamins. In addition to a good diet, fresh water should be offered several times a day. However, when temperatures dip below freezing, Rover's water will turn into ice, leaving him high and dry. If you have an outdoor dog, consider investing in a heated water bowl, which retails for about $30.

Shelter - While dogs and cats do have fur coats, they're still vulnerable to wind and water. If your pet lives outdoors, provide a fully sheltered den with dry bedding; special pet-safe heating pads can provide extra warmth. The shelter should be elevated, insulated, wind- and watertight. The shelter should not be so large that they cannot preserve their body heat. But if the wind chill dips to 20 below, bring them inside.

Health - Shivering is the earliest indication your pet is too cold. As hypothermia progresses, the pet becomes lethargic and weak, and his gums may turn pale or bluish. Frostbite is dangerous because it normally goes unnoticed beneath fur. It affects ears, feet, tail, scrotum and mammary glands. After the initial numbness, pain and skin sloughing may occur. Don't leave your pet outdoors after cold-weather exercise. Dry your pet off and bring it indoors and let it rest and get warm.

Hazards - Salts and other chemicals used to clear streets and sidewalks can irritate pets' feet. Check the labels if you use snow or ice melt to make sure they are animal-safe. Another winter hazard to pets is antifreeze, which is extremely toxic. Store antifreeze where it cannot be reached by pets and/or children. If you suspect that your pet has ingested antifreeze, do not wait for symptoms- get your pet to your veterinarian immediately. Indoor pets face special challenges, too. Vets see more cats with respiratory ailments in the winter due to long-term exposure to wood smoke, so good ventilation is important. To avoid any complications it is best to take your pet to have a check-up before the worst of the winter kicks in.

Winter Blues - Fewer hours of day light mean fewer opportunities for outdoor exercise during the winter months. Energetic dogs who require lots of active play can become frustrated and depressed and this can lead to a variety of problem behaviors- from barking and howling, to chewing furniture or messing in the house. Experts believe that pets, especially dogs, do not get the winter blues. They believe that your pet's lethargic and depressed behavior mirror your own feelings, as most pets are very sensitive to the emotional condition of their owners. Therefore, if you are prone to developing winter blues, take care of yourself (and your pet). Eat healthy and include regular exercise and fresh air in your daily program. Go for walk with your pet or play in the park for a few minutes. Fresh air and sunlight are the two most important ingredients that fight winter blues.

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Minocqua Office Hours

Monday:

8:00 am-5:00 pm

Tuesday:

8:00 am-5:00 pm

Wednesday:

8:00 am-5:00 pm

Thursday:

8:00 am-5:00 pm

Friday:

8:00 am-5:00 pm

Saturday:

8:00 am-12:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

Eagle River Office Hours

Monday:

8:00 am-5:00 pm

Tuesday:

8:00 am-5:00 pm

Wednesday:

8:00 am-5:00 pm

Thursday:

8:00 am-5:00 pm

Friday:

8:00 am-5:00 pm

Saturday:

8:00 am-12:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

Manitowish Waters Office Hours

Monday:

8:00 am-5:00 pm

Tuesday:

8:00 am-5:00 pm

Wednesday:

Closed

Thursday:

8:00 am-5:00 pm

Friday:

8:00 am-4:00 pm

Saturday:

8:00 am-12:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

Testimonials

  • "Even though we are not always happy to see them, the Drs and staff at NAH are the best!! They keep us healthy so that we can enjoy life to its fullest. We can't wait for the ice to thaw so that we can again pontoon on the Turtle Falmbeau Flowage and romp in the water."
    Tango & Tess
  • "Thankyou Northwoods Animal Hospital especially Dr. Hayman and Julie the vet technician, I can't say I enjoyed every visit but I will miss my spot under the desk and all those people feeling sorry for me (got lots of bellie rubs!!!!!) I'm happpy again now, can't really figure out why, maybe I'm missing something, OH well. Thankyou for caring so much about me and for making me happy again... Oh and I'm really glad I got my appetite back, I was worried about myself for a while there. Love carmalitta"
    Carmel Iltis
  • "Thank you to Dr. Hayman and staff for their continued help and dediction to our shelter pets. From appts on very short notice and discounts for our needy rescued dogs they stand ready to provide great care with compassion, experience and knowledge. They make these unwanted pups feel as important and loved as those currently in homes and that alone makes them wonderful if not for all the other reasons. Again... Thank You"
    Price Animal Welfare Shelter