The cold weather months are a brutal time of year for us, and our beloved four legged friends. Here are some tips to help keep your furry loved ones safe through the winter months.
It’s important to never let your dog off leash on snow or ice, dogs can easily get lost when they lose their scent. Double check that your pet’s have proper identification on their collars, and if micro-chipped, that your information has been update from any recent changes. More dogs are lost in the winter months than any other season, so be sure to take the extra time to check your pets collar. Visibility can be reduced during inclement weather, using reflective gear while outside is highly recommended. Also using sweaters, raincoats, and coats will help keep your dog dry and warm. A lot of people like to bring a long their pets while they run errands during the cooler weather but pet’s are safer at home. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding the cold air and potentially causing the animal to freeze to death.
Outdoor cats sometimes will find comfort in sleeping under the hoods of cars to stay out of the elements. They can become injured or killed by the motor or fan belt once started. If you’re unsure of anything sleeping under your hood, bang loudly on the hood of your car or honk your horn before starting the engine to give them a chance to run to safety. There are so many different chemicals used outside during the winter so it’s very important to thoroughly wipe your pet’s paws, legs, and stomach when they come back inside. Ingesting antifreeze or one of the many types of ice melt can be extremely dangerous. Early signs of antifreeze poisoning include disorientation, followed by coma and death.
Your pets paw pads can really take quite the beating in cold weather. Using pet booties are a great way to keep your pet’s paws from cracking and bleeding. Applying Vaseline to your dog’s pads before going outside will help prevent snow from sticking and help keep them from cracking. You can apply Vaseline again once you’ve gone back inside and wiped the paw pads off. Another way to help is to purchase pet-friendly deicer products for your sidewalks, doorsteps, and drive way. Sand and/or non-clumping cat litter are great safe products.
Don’t forget to stock up on supplies during frigid temperatures. Make sure you have plenty of food and medications on hand incase the weather doesn’t allow you to get out to replenish stock.
A dog’s normal temperature is a few degrees higher than ours, so the next time you feel cold or just need to cuddle, don’t reach for a blanket…get some good snuggle time with your pet. It’s a great way to feel warm and loved, just leave out the hot cocoa!
Article contributed by Family Veterinary Hospital of Stone Ridge, (family-vet.com) 703-327-8425