The cold weather is fast approaching, and for some, it has already reared its, um, ‘pretty’? face. Like people, some dogs seem much more built for the cold and snow than others. Are you prepared to keep your pet safe this winter season?
First thing’s first – you need to understand your pet’s individual needs. If you have a husky who has a long, thick double coat and thrives frolicking in the snow piles, then you need to be less concerned about keeping them warm. A teacup chihuahua, on the other hand, will get lost in those snow piles and will quickly develop hypothermia without a coat and even some booties.
This is not to say that the larger thick-coated animals do not suffer from other winter concerns. Not only does the snow and ice make for dangerous walking conditions, especially for older dogs, the cold can also worsen the symptoms of arthritis and other health problems like heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes, as these pets may have difficulty regulating their body temperature on a good day.
Tips and Tricks
- Give them both cool and warm spots to sleep on inside. This way they can decide where to sleep based on their body temperature needs.
- Shorten your walks and spend more time exercising inside. Find mentally stimulating exercises to tire them out if there is less room for physical exercise. This also means you may need to cut back on food to ensure they do not gain weight.
- With more time inside, it is also important to make sure your winter house is pet safe – turn off space heaters when you’re unable to be in the same room, pick up mittens and hats to avoid any foreign body ingestion, and make sure doors to outside are closed properly behind you when you come in and out.
- If your dog has a short coat or they are unhappy in the cold, find a sweater or jacket for them to wear outside. Make sure you dry them every time you come back in to make sure they are not still wet for your next walk. You could also consider trimming the fur between the toes of long haired dogs or placing booties on their feet to help with walking on snow and ice.
- When you get home, wipe down your dog’s feet and body to ensure they didn’t pick up anything on the walk, such as salt that isn’t pet friendly, poisonous antifreeze, or other winter chemicals.
Things to Think About
Before starting your car engine, knock on the hood. Stray cats like to sleep in car engines overnight as they are warm and protected from the wind. Unfortunately, this usually leads to life threatening injuries for them if the car is started while they are still in there. Making noise will hopefully awaken any cat in the hood and allow it to jump out before starting the car.
Clean up any antifreeze or other chemicals from your garage floor and outside your house immediately. Unfortunately, these chemicals taste like a sweet treat, but they are poisonous to pets and can cause rapid organ failure. Make sure chocolates and tinsel in your house are also kept safely away from pets as both can cause serious health problems.
Consider making a cat house to keep in your backyard. These simple houses can be made out of a standard plastic tote and some other household items and can make a huge difference for cats who need a warm place to stay during the cold winter nights.
Written by North Hill Animal Hospital