Winter can pose special risks to our pets. Remember, they count on us to make sure they are ready for the colder and damper weather. Here are some tips for keeping the four-legged members of the family safe and healthy, when the winds of winter start to howl.
1. Always provide fresh, clean water for your pet. If the weather is cold, be sure to check their water for ice formation.
2. Indoor pets should be provided with a warm, dry area free from drafts. Provide bedding that is off cold floors, and wash bedding weekly if possible (the fleas will hate you).
3. Outdoor pets should have dry shelter out of the wind. Bring cats and dogs into the house when it is rainy, snowy or weather conditions are severe (such as cold, high winds, etc).
4. Staying warm requires extra calories, your pets may need more food or a change in diet. Talk to your veterinarian about your pets’ nutritional needs.
5. Remove ice, salt, mud, snow from your pets’ coats and feet as soon as possible. If the skin looks reddish, white or grey in cold weather, is scaly or peeling, it could be frostbite if the weather has been really cold. Talk to your veterinarian immediately.
6. Most dogs and cats shed their summer coats in the fall before donning their winter fur. Most years this is light and not very noticeable, but it can pose a housekeeping problem. Regular brushing with a good pet brush can help. There are also flea combs for cats and dogs that not only help with grooming, they have fine enough teeth to catch those pesky fleas so they can be “disposed” of safely.
7. Cats and kittens like to nap on warm places, including car engines! Knock on the hood of your car or truck or honk the horn, then wait a few minutes before starting the engine. If in doubt, open the hood and look.
8. Antifreeze smells good and tastes very sweet. Small amounts can kill your pet. If a cat walks through antifreeze and then licks its paws, it can be enough to be fatal. Because it takes some time for the chemicals to crystallize in the kidney, symptoms may not show up for a few days, and by then it may be too late. Thoroughly clean up any spills, and store antifreeze in tightly-closed containers where pets and children can’t get to them.
It doesn’t take much to keep our pets safe when the weather gets frosty. Our feline and canine friends just need shelter, warmth, food, and a little tender loving care. When winter’s chill sends us scurrying indoors, we shouldn’t forget our furry pals. They will return the favor with lots of unconditional love.