All Midwesterners know that while the holiday season is full of joy and cheer, it further marks the start of colder temperatures and Iowa winters. It also means pet owners need to know how to best protect their furry friends from the dangers of harsh winter elements. Here are some helpful tips to ensure you and your pets have a wonderful winter!

How cold is too cold for your pet?

This will differ for every breed depending on coat type, color, and your pet’s size and weight. However, the general consensus is that when temperatures begin to fall below 45ºF owners should become extra aware of their pet’s comfort, for smaller breeds and those with thin coats these temperatures may be less than tolerable. It’s when temperatures range from below 32ºF to below 20ºF that pet owners must take extra measures to keep their pets safe from hypothermia and frostbite.

How do you protect your pet from hypothermia and frostbite?

Do not leave your pets outside or in your car without heat for extended periods of time. This will increase their chances of becoming disillusioned from the cold and put them at greater risk for frostbite and other dangerous health conditions.

You’ll also want to forgo shaving your pets down to their skin as their fur stores much of their warmth. If your pet has naturally short or thin fur you may also consider dressing them in a coat or sweater. Talk to your veterinarian to also see if it’s in your pet’s best interest to increase their feeding throughout the cold winter months, this could help them maintain a higher body temperature.

What should you do to protect your pet from sidewalk and road salt?

Protect your pet’s paws with petroleum jelly or consider dressing them with booties to help keep the pads of their paws safe from the harmful chemicals used in road and sidewalk salt. It’s also important after your walks to immediately check for snow in between their paw pads, and to wash and dry both their paws and stomach as soon as possible, doing so will lessen the risk that they ingest or are harmed by the toxic chemicals used to negate icy conditions.

For more helpful tips or to discuss a plan for this winter, contact one of our four clinics or stop in for a check up! Our staff and veterinarians are here to ensure you and your pet have a wonderful holiday season!

View more cold weather tips from ASPCA.