As the summer skies start to turn to gray and you’re retrieving your winter clothing from storage and making sure you have ample fire wood, this is also the time to remember to protect your companion pets from the elements of the cold weather.
To ensure the safety and well being of your companion pet, the following is a good guideline for preparing and protecting them from the winter elements:
Make sure you have enough supplies to last a few days in case the roads should become unsafe for travel and you are unable to get to a veterinary office. Supplies should include pet food, litter, fresh water and any medications.
Like humans pets can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite if left outside for long periods of time in freezing weather. The young and elder pets are especially as risk. Indoor accommodations are best during freezing weather, but if you are unable to bring your animals inside, set up a housing area that is protected from wind, rain, and snow. Use isolations such as straw or blankets to help them keep their body heat up. This is a good time to visit your local thrift store and stock up on used reasonably priced blankets and bedding for them. Do not use a space heater or other non-approved appliances for heating your outdoor animal house. These can become a fire hazard. Pet stores sell heated mats for pets to sleep on but be sure to follow the manufactures recommendations.
Outside water can freeze very quickly. Make sure your pets have a constant supply of fresh water. They are not able to get enough water from licking ice or eating snow. Replenish their water supply often. You can check you local pet store for a heated water dish. In these dishes the water stays cold, but doesn’t freeze.
Animals love the taste of anti-freeze, be sure that you properly discard any anti-freeze containers and clean up any spills immediately.
Never let you dog off leash during times when it is snowing. Dogs can lose their sent and become lost during a snowstorm.
After taking your dogs for a walk make sure and wipe off his/her legs and stomach. Dogs can ingest salt, antifreeze or other chemicals brought in from outside while licking their paws and stomach.
Consider getting your pet a coat or sweater with a high color or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to underneath the belly.
Puppies and senior dogs do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs. Take them outdoors only to relieve themselves. If you are potty training, consider training indoors with paper or pee pads.
Never shave your dog down to the skin in the winter. Longer coats will provide more warmth. Completely dry your dog after bathing before taking outside.
Pets do not know the difference between thin ice and frozen solid ice. Once an animal falls in, it is very difficult for them to climb out and hypothermia can become a life threatening situation.
Cats will seek out the warmth of a car engine just parked. Before starting your car, knock on the hood or honk the horn to scare off any cats seeking the warmth or your car.
Arthritis is worse during the colder months. For pets that seem to be moving a little slower, speak with your veterinary or consult a pet store for medicines that can help with joint pain and take special care when walking on icy walkways