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Winter Wonderland | 6 Tips for Winter Pet Safety in Western New York

Winter Wonderland | 6 Tips for Winter Pet Safety in Western New York


The Western New York winter has arrived. Veterinary Emergency Clinic hopes everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. As the holiday season approaches, and you winterize your home and prepare to hunker down to survive until spring, we wanted to take some time to go over some safety precautions for winter. Any Buffalonian knows the challenge of getting through the months of bitter cold and snowy season. Here are 6 guidelines for caring for your animal this winter.

Keep Pets Indoors

Simple. If your dog or cat doesn’t need to be outside to go to the bathroom or out with you on a quick walk, they should be inside. Don’t leave them outside for too long. During walks, small dogs and dogs with short hair might enjoy wearing a sweater. (You might enjoy seeing them in doggie fashion too!) Even if the temperature isn’t sub-zero, windchill can lead to permanent damage on their exposed skin. Keep their noses, ears, and paws warm and dry to avoid frostbite and hypothermia.

Build a Shelter

As noted, keep your dog inside as much as possible. If your dog does spend a lot of time outdoors, he or she should have a draft-free, dry shelter. Whether you purchase or build the shelter, ensure that it is big enough for the dog to sit and lie down, but small enough to hold in heat. The floor of the doggie house should sit a few inches off the ground and have some sort of bedding like cedar chips or straw. Cover the entranceway with thick plastic or burlap to help hold in the heat.

Ensure Proper Diet

Just like you, cold temperatures and keeping warm burns a lot of calories. This depletes the pet’s energy. Make sure that the pet’s water dish is always full. Avoid overfeeding, but make sure your animal is getting his or her recommended daily caloric intake. Also, for outdoor food and water dishes, use plastic dishes. When the temperature is low, an animal’s tongue can stick to metal just like Ralphie’s friend did in A Christmas Story.

Knock on the Hood

When it’s cold out, cats and other small animals are attracted to crawling up inside of warm car engines. If you have a local cat who strolls about the neighborhood, keep an eye out for him creeping around your car. If you have an outdoor cat that hasn’t been home in a while, knock on the hood to scare them, or another cat, out of a possibly deadly situation.

Watch Out For Salt & Antifreeze

Salt and other chemicals that are used to melt snow irritate your pet’s pads on their feet. Make sure you wipe their feet off after walking through salt to ensure they don’t try to lick it off. Also, as we noted in our blog last year, antifreeze can be DEADLY to pets. Any spills need to be cleaned up IMMEDIATELY to avoid consumption.

If You See a Pet Left Outdoors, Contact Someone Immediately

If you notice there is an animal left outside of a home, if you feel safe doing so, politely let the homeowner know you’re concerned. If you don’t feel comfortable, document what you saw. Get as many details as possible; date, time, location, type of animal. If you can snap a cell phone video or picture, that will also help. Contact your local police department or animal control agency. If you end up seeing the situation persist, follow up with the organization.


Veterinary Emergency Clinic is your number one choice in Western New York for emergency medical care for pets. If you ever need anything for your animal, please don’t hesitate to call us immediately. As your trusted WNY Emergency Vet, we can answer any questions you have and provide you with an immediate appointment if you need emergency care. If your animal is showing any signs of frostbite, hypothermia, or antifreeze poisoning, please call us IMMEDIATELY.

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