Hopefully everyone knows how hot weather can affect pets, but a lot of people don’t realize the effects of cold weather. Below are a few tips to keep pets safe during the winter months.
Stay inside. The best tip is to keep your dog or cat inside or at least in the garage. A lot of people believe that pets do not get as cold as humans because they have fur, but it’s very untrue. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside. Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather. Also, remember in some states or counties it is against the law to leave a pet out in extreme conditions depending on the breed or shelter available.
When going out. You will need to take precautions when your pet does go outside in the cold. First, make sure they are not out too long, frostbite can set in as little as 30 minutes. Make sure you are checking your pet’s paws or ears for evidence of frostbite. Also, make sure you watch out for spots of ice. Especially in older pets who have a hard time getting around. Pets can fall and harm themselves just as people do. Pet safe ice melt is also a necessity. Non-pet safe ice melt can be ingested and cause medical issues. If you aren’t using safe ice melt, make sure you wipe your pet’s paws off after going out or you can purchase a pair of shoes for your dog. Lastly, if your pet is sensitive to the cold or has short hair you can purchase a sweater for them.
Shelter. We suggest you make a place indoors for your pets if the weather is too cold. Shelter needs to be off the ground facing away from the wind or out of wind all together. You can also place hay bales around the dog house to help deter wind even more. When getting your pets shelter ready for winter remember that smaller is better. The bigger the house the more heat it uses to fill up all the unused space. Also having a flap on the dog house keeps the heat in better. If you don’t think your pet will use the door flap, make sure you look up how to train a dog to use the door. If your dog won’t use the door flap, you can remove the flap. Make sure the house is slightly off the ground and use blankets or hay for warmth. Make sure you change bedding out frequently to prevent infections, smells and disease. As far as cats, you can buy a large plastic tote and cut a hole just big enough for your cat to get into the box. You can also look onYouTube about how to insulate your plastic tote.Food, water, and nutrition. Outside pets still need plenty of water and you need to make sure you have a heated bowl or frequently change the water to prevent freezing. Canned foods can also freeze outside. Dry food would be best in extreme temperatures. As far as nutrition, outside pets should be fed well and kept a little fuller in the cold weather months. Being underweight or overweight can make the weather worse on a dog or cat. Please contact your veterinarian if you have questions on what an ideal weight is for your pet.
Garage for the winter. As we discussed earlier, it’s best to move your pet into your house or garage. When placing your pet in the garage, you also need to pet proof it before leaving your pet alone. Make sure you put up all chemicals and check for leaks under your car. Also remember garages still can get cold enough to freeze. You can put a heater or heat lamp out with them. Make sure you are careful using either of those as a heat source. At the very least, use plenty of blankets that are off the ground and offer fresh water and food.
A few little things to remember. When starting your vehicle make sure you are loud and make a lot of noise. Stray cats will get on top of engines because of the warmth. Make sure you have a emergency kit with medicine, food, water and a blanket in case of an emergency. Keep your pets current on yearly exams and medications, especially pets with arthritis. Pets that currently have arthritis will experience more stiffness and pain during the colder months.
Our mission is to provide high quality, compassionate veterinary care with a personal touch. We strive to maintain a friendly and comfortable environment for pets and owners and are committed to building strong, respectful, and honest relationships with our clients. Through teamwork, we are dedicated to ensuring the best care possible and treating pets as if they were our own.
Written by: Josh K, information from AVMA