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Keep Your Pets Happy This Winter!

by Heather Carter December 03, 2021

Keep Your Pets Happy This Winter!

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but cuddling our pets is so delightful!

With the shift in weather and the craziness of the holidays it is more important than ever to take the proper precautions to ensure the ongoing health and happiness of our favorite furry friends!


Dogs will do best staying indoors as much as possible during these cold months. However, beware that the dry heat in your home conflicted with the chilly weather outside can lead to dryness that will cause irritation to your dog’s skin. Keeping your house humidified will help guard against dry, flaky, and itchy skin! (And it helps make sleep easier and more refreshing too!)

For our outdoor pets, giving them access to dry, draft-free shelter is extremely important. The space should be large enough for them to comfortably sit and lie down, while also being small enough to hold in their body heat.

Horses should have access to a barn or run-in so they can find shelter during the wind, rain, or snow. Keeping up with barn repairs, while also maintaining all drainage pipes and ditches, will help keep from disastrous problems occurring later during severe weather. Uneven floors, poor circulation, and drippy roofs can lead to sickness or injury for our horses but can be prevented with some basic barn repair and maintenance. 

Food & Water

Keeping your pets at a healthy weight can sometimes be a challenge for pet owners during the winter months. Both horses and dogs may require extra food portions to help maintain their ideal weight, but before making any significant changes to their diet it is best to contact your trusted veterinarian. (Do not over feed!)

A fluffy winter coat can mask changes in weight so pay special attention and do your best to check their bodies by hand as often as possible to be aware of any and all changes to their body condition.

Horses and dogs can dehydrate in winter just as quickly as they can during the rest of the year, and often require a lot more water than you think! Always make sure they have full access to fresh, clean water both inside and outside the home. (Horses drink more water during winter due to the decreased water available in their grain compared to pasture). If being kept outside, continually check that their water source has not frozen over and is kept clear of all debris.

Hoof & Paw Protection

Always give proper foot protection to your pets while taking them out this winter. When taking your dog for a walk remember that their paws can get just as cold as our toes and if not properly wiped off and dried after their walk, they will be at risk for frostbite. It is also important to wipe their paws, legs, and stomach to ensure that none of the salt or ice melt, often placed on roads and sidewalks in winter, is still present and accessible to your pet. Licking the salt off their body’s can lead to gastrointestinal upset and irritation of the mouth and paws.

Horses can require different shoeing options than during the warmer months. Some like to remove their shoes completely or only shoe their front feet to help give them added support while also having the benefits of going barefoot, such as not balling up with snow or recovery from year-round wear and tear.

Listen to your farrier’s advice! Winter shoeing is not universal and what is good for one horse may not be good for another. Base your decision on your horse’s use, condition, and hoof quality while keeping tabs on them throughout the winter to adjust and maintain their overall hoof health!


Every horse is unique! Their tolerance to cold can vary based on age, coat, body fat, activity level, and overall health. Health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances can affect their ability to regulate their body temperature, or worsen some conditions, such as arthritis.

Depending on your horse, you may choose to blanket them during the colder months. But before you blanket your horse you should remember that horses do not get their full winter coat in until right before Christmas. Blanketing them too early can result in their winter coat not fully developing, leaving them more exposed to the elements.

Before blanketing make sure that your horse is as clean and dry as possible to avoid them getting a chill. Blankets can be uncomfortable for some horses, specially at first, so always regularly check the straps, looking for any places that rub or chaff their skin.

Car Concerns

Antifreeze smells and tastes sweet to dogs and as little as a teaspoon can be toxic and lead to kidney failure! Be alert for the signs that your dog has ingested Antifreeze, which include drooling, vomiting, seizures, excessive thirst, panting, lethargy, or a drunken appearance.

If you think your dog has ingested antifreeze, it is important to get to a vet ASAP! Even if you keep your antifreeze safely tucked away, there is still a danger from residue in the streets. So always watch where your dog is sniffing!

We know better than to leave our pets in a car unattended during the summer but the same should apply in winter. Cars can act like a refrigerator, holding in cold air, and threatening the life and health of your pet. It is best to leave your pets at home where they can stay warm and safe!

Holiday Safety Tips!

Be Careful With Holiday Plants & Decorations!

  • Oh, Christmas Tree: Make sure that your Christmas tree is securely anchored so it does not tip and fall over, avoiding any possible injuries. Also prevent any access to the tree’s water, which can contain fertilizers or bacteria that can end up causing nausea or diarrhea in your pets.
  • Avoid Mistletoe/Holly: Holly can cause pets nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea when ingested, while Mistletoe can lead to gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. Go for artificial plants, made from silk or plastic, which should offer a safer alternative during the holiday season. (But do not let them eat those either!)
  • Wired Up: Keep all wires, batteries, and glass/plastic ornaments out of paw’s reach! Wires can lead to dangerous electric shock, whereas batteries can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus when punctured, and severe internal burns or even death when ingested. Ornaments and other small holiday decorations can easily be swallowed by our pets leading to cuts and other digestive problems. Always keep these items up an away!

Keep your furry friends in mind this winter season and remember to show them the same love that they always show us so you can both enjoy the holidays together! 😊

Heather Carter


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