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Be Prepared: Essential Winter Pet First Aid Tips

Updated: Jan 7

Winter brings a host of potentials dangers for your pet, ranging from the risk of falling through ice on frozen ponds to exposure to harmful substances like rock salt or antifreeze. Follow our expert tips to ensure the well-being of your pet during the colder months.



A dog with a thermometer in its mouth next to a First Aid kit. Festive background
A Poorly Pupper!

9 Tips for Pet First Aid this Winter:


Tip #1 - Know the Signs of Hypothermia


One of the primary concerns during winter is hypothermia, which occurs when a pet's body temperature drops below normal. Signs include shivering, lethargy, and weakness. If you notice these symptoms, it's crucial to warm your pet up immediately. Wrap them in a blanket, use warm (not hot) water bottles, and see veterinary assistance promptly.


Tip #2 - Protect Paws from Ice and Salt


Ice and salt used on pavements can be harsh on your pet's paws. Consider investing in pet-friendly booties to shield their feet from the cold and chemicals. Additionally, wipe your pet's paws after walks to remove any ice or salt residue and prevent irritation or ingestion. High blood sodium concentration from ingestion can lead to thirst, vomiting, lethargy and, in severe cases, convulsions and kidney damage.





Tip #3 - Avoid Antifreeze


While antifreeze is essential for car maintenance in colder temperatures, it is highly toxic to pets, and its sweet taste can attract them. Be vigilant when using or storing antifreeze and clean up any spills immediately. Be mindful if your pet tries to drink from roadside puddles as these could be contaminated. Choose pet-safe antifreeze products and consult your veterinarian if you suspect your pet has ingested any.


Symptoms can include:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhoea

  • Excessive urination

  • Seizures

  • Shaking

  • Tremors

  • Coma


Tip #4 - Provide Pets with Adequate Shelter


Ensure your pet has a warm and dry place to retreat to during winter. If your pet spends time outdoors, provide a well-insulated shelter with blankets or straw for extra warmth. Windproof and waterproof materials are essential to protect them from the elements.




Tip #5 - Burn Risks


In freezing weather, pets seek warmth near radiators, open fires, or wood-burning stoves. However, these sources of heat can pose burn risks, especially for unaware pets. Ensure your pets stay a safe distance away. Carbon monoxide detectors are also crucial to prevent potential poisoning.


Tip #6 - Winter Walks


Continue outdoor activities with gradual exposure to the cold weather. Dry your dog throughly and maintain cleanliness after walks. Thin ice can break, leading to dangerous situations. Use a lead near icy ponds or lakes and never allow them to venture onto ice without thorough inspection.


Ensure good recall to prevent getting los tin the dark. Enhance visibility in dark or snowy conditions by attaching a small light to the lead or using a hi-vis jacket.





Tip #7 - Nutrition and Hydration


Cold weather may increase your pet's energy requirements. Adjust their diet accordingly and consult your veterinarian if required. Staying well-nourished helps maintain as healthy coat and boots their immune system.


Dehydration can occur at any time of the year. Ensure your pet has access to fresh water both at home and when out and about.


Tip #8 - Frostbite


Frostbite occurs when skin and other tissues freeze, often due to exposure to extreme cold temperatures. In pets, this typically affects areas with less fur coverage, such as ears, tail, paw pads, and nose. When frostbitten areas warm up again, they can cause severe pain. Consider age, cast thickness, and health conditions when deciding on extra protection like coats, jumpers, and booties. Be cautious of frostbite , which can be subtle. Stay vigilant for signs of pale or grey, hard, and cold skin. If you are worried, seek urgent advice from your vet.


Tip #9 - Update Identification Tags


Winter conditions can make it easier for pets to get lost. Ensure your pet's identification tags are up-to-date with your current contact information. Microchipping is an additional layer of protection that can help in reuniting you with your furry friend if they go missing.


Conclusion


By incorporating these winter pet first aid tips into your routine, you can help your pets safe during the colder months. Remember that each pet is unique, and understanding their individual needs is paramount. Stay vigilant, keep your pet warm, and enjoy the winter season together with peace of mind.


Interested in learning more? You can book onto one of our accredited Pet First Aid courses by calling 0141 459 0894 or emailing hello@slanjavalearning.co.uk


Kind regards,

Slanjava Learning

-slàinte mhath-


The information provided is for guidance and not a substitute for veterinary advice. The author bears no liability for inaccuracies or mistreatment, and professional veterinary consultation is advised.


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