Winter temperatures, snow, and ice can pose hazards for our pets. But with a few easy steps you can keep your furry (or feathered, or scaly) friends safe and comfortable and still get out and enjoy the great outdoors.
1. Provide shelter
A snug house with straw, heated beds, and heated water bowls provide shelter from the elements to outdoor animals, whether cat, dog, rabbit, or chicken. Check any electric components daily to make sure they're functioning and decrease risk of electrical fire. Short-coated indoor animals may appreciate a coat when going outside to play or eliminate. Avoid shaving your long-haired pet during the colder months of the year. Instead, let their fur grow to allow them to stay warm in a natural way. Lastly, winter is a good time to evaluate your reptile's habitat - make sure humidity and temperature labels are appropriate for the species and your pet's winter needs.
2. Wash Those Pads
During the winter, sidewalks, parking lots, and the streets are often covered in road salt and other chemicals to melt snow. These can irritate the skin of the paws, or cause nausea and mouth sores if licked off. Dog shoes can protect their paws, but your pet might not find them very comfortable. Instead, wipe off their paws with a wet washcloth once you come back inside. You can apply petroleum jelly to your pet’s pawpads if they become dry or cracked.
3. Avoid Antifreeze
Antifreeze has a sweet taste and is very tempting to dogs and cats - but extremely poisonous. It causes kidney failure and death if not treated quickly. Keep pets away from stored antifreeze and avoid any contact with leaked antifreeze until the area is properly cleaned. If you think your pet may have been exposed to antifreeze, seek veterinary care immediately. Signs of antifreeze poisoning include: drunken behavior, wobbling or falling over, lethargy, vomiting, change to urination (too much and then later too little), diarrhea, and depression.
By doing what you can to keep your animals warm, protect their feet, and avoid toxins, you can make sure winter is just as enjoyable for your pets as it is for you.
Photos Maja Dumat and M C Morgan www.flickr.com