Winter Pet Care Tips
Cold weather can bring special health hazards and concerns for pets. The following tips will help you prepare to keep your pets safe during the winter months:
- If it too cold for you to be outside for prolonged periods of time it’s probably too cold for your pet. Temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit pose a risk of hypothermia and frostbite to dogs and cats. Extra caution should be taken with very young or elderly animals as they are especially sensitive to the cold. Cars can become extremely cold and pets should never be left alone in a car.
- Avoid walking your dog near frozen ponds, lakes and other water. The ice may not be able to support your dog’s weight and a break through the ice can be deadly.
- Make sure the water in your pet’s bowl doesn’t freeze. Animals must have access to fresh water at all times, even in the winter. Use ceramic or plastic water bowls when making water available to pets outside. Your pet’s tongue can get stuck to a frozen metal bowl, causing pain and injury.
- Pets can be prone to weight gain during the winter months. Decreased daylight hours and adverse weather can mean decreased outdoor activity for pets. If you start to notice weight gain in your pet consult with your veterinarian about possible adjustments in your pet’s diet.
- Wipe those feet! Chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate and burn paw pads and should never been ingested. Be sure to wipe your pet’s feet after coming indoors to remove these chemicals. Booties can provide good protection and prevent snow, sand and salt from getting lodged in paws causing discomfort and irritation.
- Clean up any antifreeze spills quickly, as even small amounts of antifreeze can be lethal to pets. Pets love the sweet taste of antifreeze but the consequences can be deadly. Do not allow your pet to lick anything from driveways or roadways. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet has ingested antifreeze.
- Beware of cats in your car. Outdoor cats often seek refuge under the hood of cars to take advantage of heat from the engines. Bang on your car’s hood or honk your horn before starting your car to alert cats of your presence. Cats who don’t exit in time, can become injured.
- Be sure your pet wears identification tags with current contact information while playing outdoors.
- Include your pet’s need in your disaster/emergency kit. Severe winter weather can bring power outages and create unsafe travel conditions. Be sure to have a minimum of a one-week supply of your pet’s food, water and medications on hand.
- Cold weather can worsen some medical conditions such as arthritis. Your veterinarian can help diagnosis arthritis and discuss treatment options to help your pet move more comfortably.