Most of us are aware of the risks of hot weather and pets. But, winter weather also poses serious risks for pets. Here are some tips to keep pets warm and safe during the winter months.
Get a Health Check Up: It is important to have your pet evaluated during the winter months. Cold weather often worsens some medical conditions, such as arthritis. Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing’s Disease) may have a harder time regulating their body temperature, and may be more susceptible to extremes. So, it is best to be evaluated by a veterinarian.
Know Their Limits: Some dogs are more susceptible to cold then others. Short-haired, thin, elderly and very young dogs get cold much more quickly. So, they should have limited time outdoors. If they have to be outside for more than a few minutes, consider a coat or sweater. Hypothermia and frostbite are serious threats to dogs in winter. So, if it is too cold for you, it is too cold for your pet.
Wipe Their Paws: During winter walks, your dog’s paws can pick up all kinds of toxic chemicals – salt, antifreeze or de-icers. Be sure to wipe off your dog’s paws when you return from walks to prevent them from licking it off and becoming sick. Purchase pet-safe de-icers for your home. And, when wiping off paws, be sure to check for signs of injury, such as cracked or bleeding paws. Massaging petroleum jelly or other paw protectants into paw pads before going outside can protect paws from salt or chemical agents. Booties provide even more protection by preventing salt and other debris from getting between the toes and causing irritation
Clean Up Chemicals: Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean any spills from your vehicle. And, consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. For more info on the dangers of antifreeze and other chemicals, click here: https://www.lovencarevet.com/2018/11/30/antifreeze-poisoning/
Stay inside: Cats and dogs should be kept indoors during cold weather. Many people believe that a cat or dog will be warm outside because they have fur coats. That is simply not true. If left outdoors, pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen injured or killed. In addition, do not leave pets alone in a vehicle during cold weather, as cars can act like refrigerators that hold cold and can cause animals to freeze to death in a short amount of time. Also, provide options for your pet to stay indoors. Just like you, pets prefer comfortable sleeping options and may change their location for more or less warmth.
Be Prepared: Winter brings extreme weather that can cause power outages. Have an emergency plan that includes your pets. Have an emergency kit with enough food, water and medication to last at least five days. Include extra blankets and towels in the kit. Most likely, you will not need to use the kit. But, if you do, you will be grateful you planned ahead.
Remember, stay safe and keep warm!