Taking Care of Your Pets When the Weather Outside is Frightful
Winter can take a toll on pets - and us two-legged creatures too! Help them weather the weather:
Schedule an exam with your vet
Many people schedule their annual wellness exam or preventative care exam for spring to get ahead of flea and tick season. This is great! But if your pet has medical conditions, like arthritis, diabetes, heart or kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances, cold weather can make symptoms worse. It may be a good time to get that yearly visit in!
Know your pet’s tolerance for cold
Depending on your pet’s coat, body fat, activity level, and overall health, they may be more or less vulnerable to the cold. For example, a husky may be just fine trotting along in 20° temps, a pitbull or beagle with low body fat stores might have more difficulty. Adjust your walks: for example, if you do one hour long stretch, try breaking it up into two or three sessions.
Keep cats inside
Many cats like to go out and prowl around their territories. In winter, this can put them at risk for hypothermia, frostbite, and injury. Best to keep them in when the mercury plunges. (Just watch the doors when you enter or exit your home; cats are terrific escape artists!).
Limit outdoor time for dogs
If you experience a stretch of severe weather, dogs should only be taken out to relieve themselves. In moderately cold weather, you might want to consider outdoor gear for your pup if they get cold quickly. A “horse blanket” style coat, for example, does not restrict movement and helps retain warmth. If you dog will tolerate boots, go for it. They’ll prevent frostbite and keep ice and salt from getting into your dog’s sensitive paws.
Wipe your dog’s feet after walks
Speaking of sensitive paws, if your pooch doesn’t wear boots, make sure to wipe his feet after he’s been outside. Salt, antifreeze, de-icers, and other chemicals can be toxic when licked. Check for cracks or bleeding. You can also apply a thin coat of Vaseline, Bag Balm, Mushers Secret, or another balm before outdoor time to protect their feet.
Provide indoor activities
If your dog or cat is spending less time outside, make sure they have opportunities for physical activity inside. Play games, bat around a ball together, invest in a few toys and rotate them so they don’t get bored, and use puzzle feeders to keep them stimulated physically and mentally.
Check your wheel wells and underneath your car
Some cats, particularly strays, seek out shelter and warmth from your vehicle. Before driving away, give these areas a quick check and make some noise to get animals out of harm’s way.
We know that leaving a dog in a hot car can be fatal. Cold can be equally dangerous. If the weather is extreme, please leave your pet at home.
Make sure your pet is chipped and has a safe collar with tags
In winter, it’s harder for pets to use scent to find their way back home if they are separated from you. This is a terrible time of year to get lost. Collars with tags that have your contact information and a microchip can help Fido find his way back to you.
Prepare for storms
It’s always smart to stock up on essentials in case roads are unsafe or your power goes out. Water, canned food, batteries, flashlights, first aid kit etc., are important. Don’t forget to add extra dog or cat food, medication, and other pet supplies to the list.
Bonus Tip: Keep yourself safe!
The sun goes down early in the winter months; if you’re out walking, make sure to wear reflective clothing so you are visible. Your dog should also have reflective gear.
Ready for winter? Stay warm and cozy, and remember to give us a call if the cold or related issues are affecting your pets.