Winter weather can be dangerous for pets. Cold temperatures, snow storms and other hazards pose a threat to health. As a pet owner, you need to be smart about your pets’ special needs during the chilly months of the year.
1. Don’t overdo. Just like people, pets have various levels of tolerance to cold. Unless your pet is a breed with an insulating coat, having fur doesn’t automatically equate to being warmer. Age, health condition and level of activity all influence how long your pet can stay outside in the winter. Degenerative diseases such as arthritis can act up in the cold, making usual activities such as walks difficult for older pets.
2. Watch Fido’s Feet. Your dog’s paws come in contact with cold pavement, snow and ice throughout the winter. If he or she suddenly starts limping while on a walk, stop and check for ice or pieces of rock salt that may be stuck between the paw pads. Always wipe down your dog’s feet after a trip outside to remove irritants and potentially harmful chemicals. Walking on any surface that has been treated with a de-icing agent can cause dry, cracked paw pads. If you see evidence of this, contact your vet about treatment options.
3. Have a Warm Space. Pets may change their preferred sleeping areas when the weather turns colder. Make sure that wherever your furry friend decides to bed down is warm and comfortable. If your pet likes to spend time outdoors, provide a heated shelter such as a dog house and make sure there is always fresh water available in a bowl designed to keep the liquid from freezing. Ask your vet if it’s necessary to feed your pet more to help him or her maintain the right body temperature.
4. Be Prepared for Storms. Your pet may love playing outdoors, but bring your animal inside if a storm is coming. Keep in mind that all pets may be in danger if the power goes out. Put together an emergency kit that holds everything that both the people and pets in your family need in the event of an outage, including food, water and blankets. Should you need to leave the house and stay elsewhere during a prolonged outage, make sure that the hotel you choose is pet-friendly.
5. Avoid Toxic Exposure. Winter chemicals such as antifreeze can be deadly to pets. Around Christmas, decorations including plants and icicles also pose potential threats. Keep all chemical containers firmly shut and out of reach of pets and children. Clean up any leaks or spills immediately. Elevate decorations so that they are out of reach of curious pets.
Follow these tips to give your pets a safe and healthy season this winter. As long as you play it smart, you and your furry friends can enjoy the cold without any problems.