U of M Veterinarian Talks Pets and Winter Weather Dangers

Updated: 01/03/2014 8:03 PM KSTP.com By: Leslie Dyste

As temperatures drop it's important to remember to pay extra attention to your four-legged friends.

Salt on sidewalks and roadways can cause some problems for your pet. While salt is not toxic to dogs, it can be very uncomfortable. Dr. Kristi Flynn of the U of M Veterinary Medical Center says dogs can get a 'thermal burn feeling.'

Luckily, it won't do long-term damage. The uncomfortable feeling will stop after the salt is washed off of your pup's paws, and there are 'pet safe' salt products that may be less irritating.

Flynn says a pair of dog booties are your dog's best defense against the salt. She says fleece booties are fine for dogs to wear out in the snow, and there are also some 'non-slip' options.

If pets eat the salt, or lick their paws- there's not really a cause for concern. Flynn says the small amount of salt won't harm their health.

As for cold weather, hypothermia is a concern for pets, especially in smaller breeds. Flynn recommends staying with your dog when they go outside, to make sure you remember to let them in. She says tragedies are often caused due to miscommunication between family members on who is letting the pet back inside.

Oftentimes pet owners resort to bundling their dog up to stay warm, but is it really necessary? Flynn says sweaters and jackets are a good option to keep your pet comfortable, especially in short-haired breeds. The clothing can help keep the core of your dog warmer.

Flynn recommends making the sweater or jacket a positive experience by giving your pup treats while they're wearing it.

Cats also face their share of risks in cold weather. She says cats often wander into neighbor's garages for warmth. They can also find themselves in trouble when they crawl into the hood of a car to stay warm.

Send your winter pet photos to pics@KSTP.com.