The chilling grip of winter is upon us in many areas, and with this season comes potentially harmful issues for our pets, from frostbite to poisoning. Below are some ideas to keep your pet warmer and safer during the next few months of the New Year:
Short-haired dog breeds or older animals may need a coat to wear outside while on a walk. No one likes feeling like an icicle, including our beloved pets, so if you have a dog that's affected by colder temperatures, provide an extra layer of warmth in the form of a coat. Also, it's not a good idea to shave your pet to the skin during the winter months – the animal's fur helps insulate it from the harsh winter weather. Therefore, make sure your groomer doesn't give your furry friend too much of a hair cut this season.
The pads of a pet's feet can become frost-bitten if they are outdoors for too long. Ice, snow and other materials can also be painful if picked up while outside. Many mushers and other dog owners use booties specifically made for dogs; you, too, may find those beneficial for your pet.
Don't let your dog off-leash while outdoors, especially during a snowstorm. Dogs often rely on scent to find their way, and they can lose this sense easily in snow and wind. According to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), more dogs are lost during winter months than during other times of the year.
Therefore, make sure your pets have ID tags and/or microchips so they can be returned home if they do become lost.
Create a warm place for your pet to sleep, if they sleep inside the house or in a kennel in the backyard. If you have outdoor animals, provide them with a strong, cozy shelter, including straw for warmth inside the barn or doghouse. If your pets live indoors, a snug bed keeps them warmer and is more comfortable than the hard, cold floor.
When your dog is bathed, make sure he is completely dry before going outdoors.
After returning from a walk, clean your dog’s paws, legs and stomach area when you return home. He can ingest anti-freeze, salt, and other harmful chemicals if allowed to clean himself.
Remember that anti-freeze poisons pets, so keep your animals away from it.
Keep your cat indoors during the winter. Felines can freeze, become lost, or contract a deadly disease such as rabies. Additionally, many people feed wild birds during the winter, and cats can be deadly on these lovely wild things that others are not only caring for, but also enjoy watching at the feeders.
Cats also may climb into the engines of vehicles, so if there are outdoor cats in your area, prior to starting your car's engine, bang on the hood to scare away any potential stowaways. Fan belts seriously injure, even kill, cats and other small animals that crawl into a car's engine. So, double-check before starting your vehicle's engine.
Putting these guidelines into action will help keep your four-footed companion warmer and safer during these winter months of cold, ice and snow.