When the weather outside is frightful, your pets could be at risk! Keep your four-legged friends safe and happy while waiting for spring to arrive with these seven winter weather tips.
Limit outdoor time.
During the cold months, cats should be kept indoors at all times, especially when snow or ice is in the forecast. The same goes for dogs, shorten your dog’s walk time during inclement weather. All pets are different so they do not experience cold temperatures in the same ways. Dogs with a thick and double-layered coat may tolerate icy weather conditions better, whereas short-haired animals have less natural protection. If your dog enjoys being outdoors and will be outside for longer periods of time, consider outfitting him or her with a sweater or coat. Hypothermia and frostbite pose major risks in the winter, so remember, if it is too cold for you, it is probably too cold for your dog.
Wipe them down.
During walks, your dog’s feet, legs, and belly may pick up de-icers, antifreeze, or other potentially toxic chemicals. When you get back inside, wipe down or wash your pet’s feet, legs, and belly to remove these chemicals and reduce the risk of poisoning. Purchase pet-safe de-icers for your home for an added level of safety. And when wiping off your dog’s paws, remember to check for signs of injury, such as cracked or bleeding paws. To protect dogs’ paws from these chemicals, consider layering your pets’ paws with petroleum jelly, or investing in doggie shoes. The Vaseline will create a barrier that helps to keep the salt from sticking to your dog.
Keep up with wellness exams.
It is highly recommended that pets receive an annual checkup before exposing them to cold weather. Chronic medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, hormonal conditions, and kidney issues can make a pet less-tolerant of cold temperatures. A thorough vet examination also helps identify health conditions, like arthritis, that could worsen in icy temperatures. If your pet needs a check-up, learn more about our wellness exams.
Watch for any problems when pets are outside. If your pet is whining, anxious, shivering, or weak take them inside immediately. These are signs of hypothermia. To determine your pet’s cold-tolerance levels, speak with a qualified veterinarian. Call us today if you have any questions or concerns.
Give them choices.
Just like humans, pets prefer comfortable sleeping places and may change their desired location based on their need for more or less warmth. Give them some safe options to allow them to adjust their sleeping place. Make sure your pets’ beds are kept in a warm area of the house, away from drafty doors and windows.
Brushing your pet regularly not only gets rid of dead hair but also stimulates blood circulation, improving the skin’s overall condition. This is very important during these bleak winter months. Plus the routine of it can be soothing to both you and your pooch and it’s a great a way for you both to decompress after a long day.
Due to changes in activity levels a change in your pet’s diet may be necessary. For example, if your pet is less active, less food might be recommended. Some owners give their dogs extra food to build up their fat because they believe the extra weight will help their pets tolerate the cold better. However, additional body fat can have long-term and negative effects. So always give dogs a healthy, nutritious diet and speak to a veterinarian before making changes in your pet’s diet. In addition to monitoring food, it’s important that your pets are drinking enough water. The air both inside and outside homes becomes drier in the winter months so be sure to provide your pet with plenty of fresh water so they stay hydrated.
Cold temperatures can pose health risks to pets, but taking some precautions can help make the chilly winter season more enjoyable for you and your pets. For more information and guidance on how to help your pets safely enjoy the winter weather, make an appointment with the staff at College Road Animal Hospital today.