Winter Pet Care Tips
Cold winter weather can be very dangerous to our companion animals. Here are some tips that can help make our pets more comfortable and possibly save their lives.
Cats should be kept indoors. If allowed to roam outdoors, cats can freeze and become lost or stolen. If a cat is allowed to stray, it will be exposed to potentially fatal infectious diseases such as rabies.
Cats that roam outdoors during the winter will sometimes seek shelter under the hoods of cars. Before starting the engine, bang loudly on the hood of the car to allow a cat to escape and avoid injury or being killed by the fan belt or blades.
If you have a dog that enjoys the outdoors, be sure he has a dry, draft-free shelter so that he can escape the cold. The shelter should be large enough for your dog to move around in freely, but be small enough to keep him warm. The floor of the shelter needs to be elevated from the damp ground and a layer of cedar chips or straw will provide insulation to keep your dog warm.
Never allow your dog off leash in snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. Dogs will lose their ability to detect scents and can easily become lost under these conditions. Be sure your dog is wearing identification tags, especially since more dogs become lost during the winter months than during any other season.
When your dog comes back into the house during messy winter weather, be sure to thoroughly wipe off his legs and stomach.
Dogs will lick their paws and can ingest salt, antifreeze or other chemicals that may be hazardous to their health. Also, be on the lookout for bleeding from the paw pads that may be caused by overexposure to snow or ice.
If you own a short-haired breed, it is a good idea to buy a coat or sweater for your dog. If your dog is elderly, ill, or a breed which sensitive to cold, you should take him outdoors only to relieve himself.
Never shave a dog’s coat to a short length in the winter. Leave the coat longer for more warmth. If you bathe your dog during the winter, be sure that his coat is completely dry before taking him outdoors.
Cats and Dogs
During severely cold weather, all pets should be kept indoors. Never leave a dog or cat alone in the car during cold weather. A car can become a refrigerator or freezer and hold in cold air. A cat or dog can literally freeze to death.
Antifreeze is extremely toxic to cats and dogs. It has a sweet taste and is extremely attractive to animals. Be sure to clean up any spills from vehicles and repair leaks. Consider using products which contain propylene glycol which are less toxic rather than the more hazardous products which contain ethylene glycol.
Be certain to give your companion animal a warm place to sleep. Sleeping areas should be free of drafts and elevated from the floor. A dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is ideal.