When the cold weather hits we tend to stay indoors more and bundle up when we go outside. The same rules should apply to our four-legged friends; they are also susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite in extreme cold weather. Exposed skin on noses, ears, and paw pads can quickly freeze and suffer permanent damage.
Follow these cold weather safety tips to keep your pet safe this winter:
Your pet should live indoors. It is important to understand that pets are best kept indoors when you are indoors, especially during extreme cold, damp weather which becomes so common in late fall through early spring. Take your dog out for daily exercise but bring them back inside with you.
During cold weather put a sweater on your short haired dog; put on a rain cover in the rain.
Be aware that cats and other small wildlife sometimes crawl up under the hoods of cars because they are warm. You can avoid injuring a hidden animal by banging on the hood of your car before starting your engine.
After a walk with salt on the ground, clean your pet’s paws. The chemicals and salt itself used to melt snow and ice can be very irritating to your pet’s paws and tongue so be sure to wipe paws down with a damp towel before they lick the salt off themselves.
Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that may attract animals. It is important to wipe up any antifreeze spills. Choose coolants and antifreeze made with propylene glycol as they are less toxic to pets and wildlife.
If you become concerned about the health and safety of a pet you believe is being left out in the cold, speak up! Politely tell the pet owner about your concern and if the response is unfavorable, start documenting the details of the situation. The dates, times, type of animal, location, and living conditions would all be useful information to turn into your local animal control. Also, take a picture if you can and make notes about the conversations that you have had with the pet owner.
If pets must be outdoors for long periods of time, use these tips:
Provide a covered, draft-free shelter; it should be big enough to allow the pet to sit and lie down comfortably but small enough to retain the animals’ body heat. Keep the floor raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic. The walls of the “house” should ideally be insulated.
Outdoor pets need more food and water because being outside in the cold depletes energy reserves. Regularly check that your pet’s water hasn’t frozen in the dish and that it is still clean. Use plastic food and water bowls because your pet’s tongue can stick and freeze to metal bowls when it is very cold.
You can help outdoor cats running around your neighborhood by offering outdoor shelter, food, and water.
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