- Category: Pet Advice
With winter already arriving early, it’s important to remember to watch your pets during the next few months. It is always better to be more on the overprotective side as you might not realize the impact the cold has on your dog or cat. Some dogs do thrive and love the snow, but it’s always better for them to be outside for only a short time.
Below are some tips to keep your pets healthy during the winter months:
Keep all pets indoors and warm
Don't leave your dogs or cats outdoors when the temperature drops, especially short haired or older dogs and all cats. If you must let them out, make sure to watch them closely. Dogs and cats are safer indoors, except when taken out for exercise. During walks, short-haired dogs may feel more comfortable wearing a sweater or doggy jacket to help warm them up.
Be mindful that no matter what the temperature is, wind chill can threaten a pet's life. Pets are sensitive to severe cold and can get either frostbite and/or hypothermia when they are outdoors during extreme cold temperatures. Further, their exposed skin or noses, ears, and paw pads can quickly freeze and suffer permanent damage.
Never leave your cat or dog inside your car
Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death. There is so much attention to pets being left in hot cars during the summer, but the cold car during winter can be just as dangerous. Keep your pets at home.
It’s cold out here!
Take precautions if your dog spends a lot of time outside
A dog or cat is happiest and healthiest when kept indoors. If for some reason your dog is outdoors much of the day, he or she must be protected by a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to hold in his/her body heat. The house or enclosure should be turned to face away from the wind, and the doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic. But, by all means, try to keep your pets indoors.
Wipe your pets’ paws after they have been outside
The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet's feet. Wipe all paws with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates his/her mouth. Plus, you don’t want mud all over your floor!
Give your pets plenty of water
Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy. Routinely check your pet's water dish to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen. Use plastic food and water bowls rather than metal; when the temperature is low, your pet's tongue can stick and freeze to metal. And, as mentioned, make sure your dogs and cats don’t have plenty of food on hand.
Cats are attracted to warmth during the winter months
Warm engines in parked cars attract cats and some might even attempt to crawl up under the hood of a parked car! To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car's hood to scare them away before starting your engine. Better safe than sorry.
Watch the Antifreeze
Antifreeze is a deadly poison but it has a taste that can attract pets. Wipe up all spills and store antifreeze (and all household chemicals) out of reach for your pets. There are some types of antifreeze that are less toxic, but still try to keep them away from your cats and dogs.
As mentioned earlier, the best way to keep your dog or cat safe and happy during the winter months is to have them spend more time indoors. While both cats and dogs need exercise, make the walks short and brisk and keep them inside the rest of the time. You will love spending time with your pet kids and they, in turn, won’t get frost bite or too chilled.
Keep your pets’ bed away from any drafts
Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.
If you are mindful of your cats and dogs during the winter, they will be healthier and safer, even if they feel a bit cooped up.