Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe and Happy In the Winter
13 January, 2014

As the nation is experiencing one of the coldest winters on record, it is important for us to keep ourselves and our pets safe and healthy. If you have an indoor pet, they won’t be affected by the temperature, but for those outdoor cats and dogs, it can be brutal.  It might be time to make your outdoor cats or dogs domesticated during these very cold months.

Below are some tips to keep your pets healthy during the winter months:

Keep pets indoors and warm

Don’t leave your dogs or cats outdoors when the temperature drops. Regardless of the season, short-haired, very young, or old dogs and all cats should never be left outside without supervision. Dogs and cats are safer indoors, except when taken out for exercise. During walks, short-haired dogs may feel more comfortable wearing a sweater or doggy jacket to help warm them up.

Be mindful that no matter what the temperature is, wind chill can threaten a pet’s life. Pets are sensitive to severe cold and can get either frostbite and/or hypothermia when they are outdoors during extreme cold temperatures.  Further, their exposed skin or noses, ears, and paw pads can quickly freeze and suffer permanent damage.

Take precautions if your dog spends a lot of time outside

A dog or cat is happiest and healthiest when kept indoors. If for some reason your dog is outdoors much of the day, he or she must be protected by a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to hold in his/her body heat. The house or enclosure should be turned to face away from the wind, and the doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.  But, by all means, try to keep your pets indoors.

Wipe your pets’ paws after they have been outside

The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet’s feet. Wipe all paws with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates his/her mouth.

Give your pets plenty of water

Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy. Routinely check your pet’s water dish to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen. Use plastic food and water bowls rather than metal; when the temperature is low, your pet’s tongue can stick and freeze to metal.  And, as mentioned, make sure your dogs and cats don’t have plenty of food on hand.

Cats are attracted to warmth during the winter months

Warm engines in parked cars attract cats and some might even attempt to crawl up under the hood of a parked car! To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car’s hood to scare them away before starting your engine.  Better safe than sorry.

Watch the Antifreeze

Antifreeze is a deadly poison but it has a taste that can attract pets. Wipe up all spills and store antifreeze (and all household chemicals) out of reach for your pets. There are some types of antifreeze that are less toxic, but still try to keep them away from your cats and dogs.

As mentioned earlier, the best way to keep your dog or cat safe and happy during the winter months is to have them spend more time indoors.  While both cats and dogs need exercise, make the walks short and brisk and keep them inside the rest of the time.  You will love spending time with your pet kids and they, in turn, won’t get frost bite or too chilled.

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