Yes, it is the wintery time of the year and the snow has been falling on and off. I thought I would share some tips for animal owners to help keep them safe, warm and enjoying the winter season with you.
“Baby it’s Cold Outside” – The harsh cold temperatures and snowy icy months require extra precautions to ensure your pet’s comfort and safety. The need extra protection against the elements.
If you have a cat, do your best to keep it inside. Felines can freeze in the cold outdoor temperatures if left outside too long. Other hazards include being stolen or lost or injured. Cats that are allowed to stray have an increased risk of being exposed to infectious diseases like rabies from other animals.
Never shave your dog during the cold winter months. A longer coat provides more warmth and protection from the elements. Make sure they are completely dry if you bathe them, especially before a walk or doing their “duty”. If you have a short hair breed, consider getting them a coat or sweater that will cover from the base of the tail to the belly. If you are trying to housetrain a puppy, it may be harder during the winter months as they are more sensitive to the cold. You may want to consider paper training them. If you have a dog sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed, you may want to let them outside only for their potty break.
Common sense item – Never leave your dog or cat inside a vehicle during the cold weather. The vehicle acts like a refrigerator holding in the cold temperature and it could cause them to freeze to death.
A common misconception is that an “outside” dog will be fine if left outside in the winter months. This is not true. While certain breeds like Huskies and Samoyeds are better suited to cold weather, all pets require adequate shelter from the elements and should not be left outside for long periods of time. They can suffer from frostbite and hypothermia just like humans. Young and senior pets are more susceptible to exposure to the cold. If you are unable to bring them inside, make sure they have a suitable shelter where they are protected from wind, rain and snow. If possible use insulation such as straw or a blanket. Cedar shavings can irritate skin, so use caution.
Common sense item – Never use a heat lamp, space heater or other device not approved for use with animals. These are burn and fire hazard items. Some pet supply stores do sell a heated mat that can be placed under the dog house, but you still need to read the instructions well.
Pets with lots of hair between their toes may commonly get snow build up or ice balls when going on walks. You may wish to trim the hair a bit and possibly apply a small amount of petroleum jelly or olive oil to that area before a walk to help repel the snow and ice. Make sure it is an edible base since dogs like to lick what you apply to their feet. You may also considering purchasing some very cute pet boots that are worn on the feet – if you pet will tolerate them.
Lastly – animals have no conception of “thin ice”. Keep an eye on your animals if there is a pond area or if you decide to take them ice skating with you. If they fall in, it is very difficult for them to crawl out and hypothermia is a very real and life-threatening danger. Dogs can also be prone to injuries such as cruciate (Arranged in or forming a cross) tears if out in the cold for too long.
“Don’t Go Drinking With Hobbits” – Although eggnog, hot buttered rum and many other delicious drinks are great for us humans, there are some items out there to be aware of for your pets safety.
Check your garage, your parking area or any location that you may have used or would store antifreeze. Make sure there is no spilled antifreeze, or containers laying around that a curious pet may consider investigating. Just a few licks of this fluid can be fatal. Antifreeze toxicity will often look as if an animal is drunk or intoxicated with alcohol. The kidneys are the target organ and in just a few hours the antifreeze destroys the kidney tissue. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect antifreeze has been ingested because success of treatment depends on quick response. Antifreeze is also a common component in many de-icing products, so be aware. There are also safe alternatives on the market to the traditional antifreeze and contains propylene glycol instead.
Salt and de-icing products also contain granules or chemicals that may irritate your pet’s paws. The pets will then lick at their paws and ingest the material. Make sure you wash your pet’s paws and belly area after taking them for a walk outside to wash off any dangerous chemicals before they get to lick their way to clean.
“Joy to the World” – “Jeremiah was a bull frog. Was a good friend of mine. Never understood a single word he said, but he always had some mighty fine wine.” While cats and dogs are the most popular pets, here are some tips for those of us who have the other types too. I’ve also included some basic general tips here that go for all pet owners.
Small animals (especially cats) like to climb up into the warm engine compartment of vehicles and may fall asleep there. Bang loudly on your vehicle hood or honk the horn before you start it to scare away any sleeping critters.
Keep pets on a leash and make sure they have proper identification on to ensure that if they do become lost that it will be easier for someone to find their home for them.
If you have a pet that is energetic and very active, you may want to increase their food supply a bit to keep them and their fur (coat) in tip top shape. Food high in protein is the best. Pets also require extra food for energy and maintaining body heat in cold harsh climates.
Animals with arthritis need more care during the cold damp winter months. Try to handle them gently, provide them soft, preferably heated bedding and make sure they have veterinarian advised medications administered properly. Never give your animal human medications. Even one Tylenol can be fatal to an animal.
If you have a pet that sleeps in the garage, never start your car with the door closed. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a silent killer. They are smaller and it will strike them much faster than a human.
Check your pet’s paws for any injuries after walks to make sure the ice didn’t cut them and they didn’t step on anything hidden in the snow. If they have a wound and lick it before you wash and care for it they may also ingest harmful toxic chemicals from ice melt products. If the cut seems deep or slow to heal, you may need to take them in for sutures for proper healing.
Make sure any animal has ample supply of fresh water. If it is an outside pet, they will not get enough water from licking the ice that forms or eating snow. Contrary to popular belief, pets do not know how to break the ice, and if they do, they are the minority. You may want to consider a heated water bowl – as long as they don’t chew. Otherwise, make sure to check it often during the cold harsh temperatures.
FISH – Make sure the fish tank is kept warm enough in cold temperatures, especially if you experience frequent power outages. Otherwise, Goldy the fish may be belly up by morning.
BIRDS – These types of pets are sensitive to drafts and changes in temperature. Prone to catching cold easily, make sure you have a blanket or towel to place over their cage to try to keep the drafts down. Be sure they have proper ventilation when you cover up the cage. For outdoor birds like chickens, you may wish to insulate their coop or close it up if it gets too cold out.
“Walking in a Winter Wonderland” – What is your favorite winter weather pet tip? Can you think of one I forgot? I would love to hear it!
Lori Hartjoy: I am the owner of Blue Mountain Rentals. I bring over 20 years of clerical experience to my clients. My background includes processing employment, tenant screening, background checks and working as a property manager and payroll clerk. The information contained on this blog and from any communication related to the Blue Mountain Rentals website is provided for informational purposes only. All information you choose to use is at “your own risk”. Please visit http://www.bluemtnrentals.com for more information on how I can provide a win-win situation for your housing needs.
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