Animal Winter Safety Tips

dog-in-snow

How To Ensure Your Pets Safety During  Winter Months

 

As the harsh winter months settle in, it is important that you think about keeping your pets safe from all of the dangers that the season can present. Please see below for some tips that can help to insure your pet’s safety.

When Temperatures Drop Below Freezing . . . .

. . . do not leave your pets outdoors.  Dogs need outdoor exercise, but take care not to keep them outdoors for lengthy periods of time during very cold weather. Pets that are kept mostly indoors need time to adapt to cold temperatures.  This is done by building up a thicker coat and toughening their footpads for ice and snow. During extreme weather conditions, dogs and cats are safer indoors.  Pets that spend a greater amount of time outdoors in the winter need more food.  Maintaining warmth is hard work and depletes energy. Routinely check your pet’s water dish to ensure water is fresh and not frozen.  To prevent your pet’s tongue from freezing to its feeding or drinking bowl, plastic, rather than metal food and water bowls are preferred. Consider putting a sweater on your dog when you go outside if you have a hairless or smooth-coated breed.

Wind-chill is a Threat to Pets . . .

. . . even those protected by shelters.  Outdoor dogs must be protected by a dry, draft-free doghouse that is large enough to allow the dog to sit, lie down and turn around comfortably, but small enough to retain body heat.  The floor should be elevated a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The entrance of the doghouse should be turned to face away from prevailing winds, and the entrance should be covered with a flap of heavy waterproof fabric or heavy plastic.

Care for your Pet’s Feet . . .

If your pet walks on salted or chemically treated areas, be sure to wash its paws after your walk.  Gently rub the bottom of the feet to remove these irritants as soon as your dog is off the road.  Many dogs need boots in cold weather, regardless of their coat length.  If your dog frequently lifts up its paws, whines or stops during walks, it may be demonstrating that its feet are uncomfortably cold.

Trimming the hair between your dog’s toes will help ice balls from forming there. The snow and ice can cause cuts and cracked pads. Try rubbing a small amount of petroleum jelly on your dog’s paw pads before you go for a walk to help repel the snow.

Antifreeze and De-icing Chemicals . . .

. . . can be hazardous. Many types of antifreeze have a sweet taste that can attract animals.  Always store antifreeze out of reach and clean up spills. Antifreeze made with propylene glycol can actually be swallowed in small amounts and not injure pets, wildlife or humans.  You can also use pet-friendly antifreeze, which contains a much less toxic chemical and doesn’t taste as pleasant to animals.  De-icers such as rock salt when talking your dog for a walk can hurt your dog’s paw pads and be toxic if they lick it. Make sure to rinse and dry your pup’s paws when you get home.

Be Leery . . .

. . . of frozen bodies of water. Always keep your pets on a leash when walking them near suspected frozen bodies of water.  The ice may not be sturdy enough to support your pet.  If a pet falls through the ice, do not attempt to rescue your pet yourself; call or go for help.

Warm Automobile Engines . . .

. . . are dangerous for cats and small wildlife. Parked vehicles can attract small animals, which may crawl under the hood seeking warmth.  To avoid injuring hiding animals, bang on your car’s hood to scare them off before starting your engine.

Never . . .

. . . leave your dog alone in the car on cold days. The same way your car heats up in the summer, it gets extremely cold in the winter, acting like a refrigerator. If it’s too cold for you, then it’s too cold for your dog.