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Winter Pet Protection Tips and Recommendations


We have had a lot of cold and snow in Chicago this winter. After all of this shoveling and heavy coats, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. is ready for spring. And although many of us know that we need to watch for summer dangers to our pets, we forget that our animals also feel the cold.

Even if we all want winter to end really soon, the groundhog may not be right – we still have at least another month of winter weather. And snow can sometimes fall in April! With the snow and the cold, some people think that their pets get to enjoy that weather due to their big, heavy fur coats. However, if you are cold, your pet is also cold!

Winter Weather Tips for Your Pets

Pets are just as likely to get frostbite and hypothermia as you. But it’s easy to protect them from the cold. Below are several tips to keep your best friend safe this winter.

Limit time outdoors

Even the biggest and furriest dog should not spend huge amounts of time outside in the winter. A thick coat does not protect all of their body parts, especially their paws, their nose, and their ears. First, never leave your pets outside alone, even if they roam outside during other seasons. Dogs loves their walks and exercise, but otherwise, they should stay inside. Even if you think your pet may tolerate cold weather better, if you do not want to be outside, don’t leave them out there.

Additionally, arthritic and elderly pets may have more difficulty walking on snow and ice and may be more prone to slipping and falling. Just as we worry about our elderly neighbors as they grab the shovel and go outside, please stay alert of your pets who may need extra care and patience on the ice.

Bundle Up and Wipe Down

Next, some dogs have short coats, especially short-haired and smaller dogs. If you have such a pet, consider putting on a dry sweater or coat when you take them for their walk. Additionally, older dogs and puppies may have stronger reactions to the cold.

Additionally, many sidewalks may have salts or other chemicals on them. Your pet’s paws and bellies can become coated in these chemicals, which will irritate their skin. Wipe down all of the paws with a damp towel before you pet licks them. You definitely do not want the salt in their mouths! At this time, also check your dog’s paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding. Chemicals can get caught between their foot pads to cause severe pain as they burn the dog’s skin.

Lastly, if you use a de-icing treatment, consider using a pet-safe deicer that you can purchase at many pet stores.

Listen to Your Pet

Although they may not have a voice, your pet can tell you how they feel in different ways. For example, if you notice that your pet begins to whine or shiver, they should come inside. Signs of hypothermia for your pet is the same as they are for you. However, you may have trouble identifying frostbite. Either way, if your animal appears in pain due to any exposure to the cold, be safe and consult your veterinarian immediately. Damage may take a few days to show their true signs and a trained vet will help.

Protect Outdoor Pets

For example, if you have an outdoor cat, remember to provide them protection. They need extra food and water, so give them a hand.

Lastly, livestock have their own needs. If you have a horse, remember to provide them an area to escape from the wind and cold. Provide a lot of water and food during extreme cold as they will use this energy to stay warm. And a horse always loves to have a dry blanket placed on them.


Although winter may come to an end (hopefully!) soon, the cold air can stay in Arlington Heights for a long time. As you walk your dog around Lake Arlington or in Busse Woods this spring, if you have a coat on, consider protecting your dog. Even with the daffodils coming out of the ground, remember to keep everyone safe.

If you take these steps, your pets will enjoy the play and exercise but will also stay safe. However, you may also encounter pets that do not have owners who understand the dangers of the winter. If you see a pet outside too long, politely let the owner know about the risks and your concerns. Many people just do not understand how the cold affects their animals and need to know this information. Stay warm and enjoy the snow!

Additional Illinois Shoveling Tips


As another snowstorm comes to Arlington Heights, remember that shoveling your sidewalk provides you immunity from liability. But at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd., we want to provide you with the best safety advice on snowfall. The 1979 Snow and Ice Removal Act shields property owners from liability if someone gets hurt. But in a recent Illinois Supreme Court case, they clarified the requirements.

[Read more…]

2018 Winter Safe Driving Tips and Tricks

Many people don’t just walk through the winter wonderland anymore. Additionally, few of us take a sleigh ride. And if you watch the news, you would think everyone boards a plane at O’Hare. But most people drive to their holiday parties.  How can you make sure you make it there with the pie you baked and the presents for Gramma?

[Read more…]

Get Your House Ready for Winter


The Midwest welcomed the seasonably warm month of October with open arms. We loved the 80-degree days and extended summer. However, we quickly wrapped our arms around ourselves for warmth as our temperatures dropped to an unexpected 40-degrees on Saturday, October 28th. With the cold weather nowhere close to disappearing, it is important to prepare ourselves and our family member for the cold.

While we are still in the fall season, it is never too early to start preparing for the winter cold especially since the blustery, winter cold is not waiting to arrive.

According to the State of Illinois’s Emergency Management Agency “Winter Weather Preparedness Guide” should prepare three things: their family, their home, and their car. This preparation should be done by assembling a family emergency supply kit, winterizing your home, and placing a traveler’s winter weather supply kit in your vehicle.

Family Emergency Supply Kit

In the event that your home should lose power stranding both you and your family in the winter cold, you and your family should prepare a family emergency supply kit. First, according to the Emergency Management Agency, a family emergency supply kit should include:

  • A battery-powered National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio and a battery-powered commercial radio. Be sure to have additional batteries in the kit as well.
  • Non-perishable food items such as dried fruit, granola bars, and canned food items. Be sure to have food that does not require cooking in the event that you do not have appliances to cook the food in.
  • Extra medications and special items for babies, the disabled, the elderly, or those with medical conditions.
  • Additional clean water in clean containers.
  • Flashlights and extra batteries. Avoid candles due to the potentiality of starting a fire.
  • A first-aid kit that includes non-prescription drugs and personal sanitary items.
  • Pet supplies including food, one or two toys, treats, and leash as well as any other pet specific items needed.

Use these items for short term emergencies. They will help you and your family stay safe in an emergency.

Winterizing your Home

The Emergency Management Agency states that homeowners should:

  • “Insulate walls and attics.
  • Caulk and weatherize doors and windows.
  • Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic.”


Keep Your Pipes From Freezing this Winter

Another consideration for homeowners during the winter months is the chance of freezing pipes. The Emergency Management Agency illustrates how to prepare your pipes to keep them from freezing in the winter:

  1. “Locate and insulate the pipes most susceptible to freezing: typically those near outer walls, in crawl spaces or in attics.
  2. Heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cables can be used to wrap pipes. Be sure to use products approved by an independent testing organization, such as Underwriters Laboratories Inc., and only for the use intended (exterior or interior). Closely follow all manufacturers’ installation and operation instructions.
  3. Seal any leaks that allow cold air inside where pipes are located.
  4. Disconnect garden hoses and shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets.
  5. Make sure you know how to shut off the water, in case pipes burst.”

When You’re Snowed In

While these steps help lessen the likelihood of losing heat or water in the winter, there are still preparations that need to be taken to help in the event that you and your family are frozen or snowed in. Here are a few tips to ease the stress of being stuck in doors and keeping warm:

  • First, have an emergency stash of heating fuel. When severe storms hit, fuel availability may be scarce due to transportation issues.
  • Next, purchase and maintain emergency heating equipment. Examples include fireplaces, wood burning stoves, or space heaters. Keep ample fuel so that at least one room of your home can be warm at a time. Have proper ventilation when utilizing these heat sources to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Always have a fire extinguisher or multiple fire extinguishers on hand, and be sure that all members of your family know how to use one.

Traveler’s Winter Weather Supply Kit

When a home’s power goes out, at least the owner and their family have access to their belongings and emergency items. However, when a traveler is on the road and an emergency strikes in the cold, her predicament is a much harsher one. To keep from being stuck in the cold without any protection, the Emergency Management Agency advises that all travelers carry an emergency winter car kit.

Chicago Holiday Safe Driving Tips

Holiday Safe DrivingWe hear it every winter – this one is going to be bad. From the Farmer’s Almanac to local weatherpeople, Chicago prepares for the worst! However, even with bad weather, people like to travel and need holiday safe driving tips. People cross state lines to see their family and friends. To ensure that everyone has a safe and fun holiday, remember to drive safely and pay attention to weather conditions. [Read more…]

About the Firm

Ronald F. Wittmeyer, Jr. practices plaintiffs' personal injury law at his office in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

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