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Winter Pet Care: Not only is the cold weather painful to dogs and cats just like it is to humans, but there are many do’s and don’ts when it comes to winter pet care; make sure you’re aware of all of them.

August 07, 2008  |  Difficulty: Easy

Protect your pets from the many dangers lurking both indoors and out when it comes to winter weather.
Not only is the cold weather painful to dogs and cats just like it is to humans, but there are many do’s and don’ts when it comes to winter pet care; make sure you’re aware of all of them!  

  • DO take your pets for a vet check-up before winter to rule out any problems and keep an eye on any health issues that might affect your pet like arthritis, which causes stiffness and pain in joints to worsen in winter.
  • DO keep your pet indoors when the temperature drops below freezing (32 degree F.). If they must be in the cold air while you are out, provide shelter, warm bedding and a water source that is not frozen. Proper hydration helps their bodies regulate temperature. Breeds that do better in the cold:  thick-furred Huskies and long-haired Collies. Short-haired, small dogs and cats can suffer from freezing injuries quickly.
  • DO check their paw pads looking to free embedded snow that can cause frostbite and sharp ice that can cause wounds to delicate paws. Ice crystals can quickly form in paws and ears damaging the tissue. Frostbite is tricky because you won’t see the signs until days later, but it is painful for your pet. Be careful with any tissue you think is frozen and don’t rub it. Simply soak in warm (not hot) water to try to restore circulation and wrap your pet in a warm blanket.
  • DO wipe pets paw pads with a wet cloth to remove any Anti-freeze and salt residue as dogs and cats will lick this and possibly be poisoned or damage their delicate digestive tract.
  • DO a winter home maintenance check including testing your furnace for carbon-monoxide leaks, which is both odorless and invisible but a killer nonetheless.
  • DO put a sweater on your pet to protect his underbelly from the cold. It’s not a cure-all, but it will protect that delicate skin.
  • DO watch for signs of hypothermia or injury from the cold: shivering, whining, limping, slowing down, laying down or burrowing are all signs that your pet cannot regulate his body temperature and is in danger of death. Carefully check your pet all over and wrap him in a warm blanket to help ease his discomfort.
  • DO take your pet to the vet if you suspect hypothermia, frostbite or injury or illness to due exposure to windy weather so he can asses any damage and treat pain and infection.
  • DON’T let young, old or ill pets with medical conditions like diabetes or wounds out into the snow as they are more susceptible to the cold and the danger of injuries.
  • DON’T let dogs off the leash around an iced pond as they can fall through the ice.
  • DON’T let your cat roam unsupervised outdoors. They can be very clever at finding heat and will very likely curl up again a car engine and get wounded or killed. Always honk be fore turning on engines in the winter. They can also get caught in dumpsters, doorways, snow banks and cracked open windows looking for shelter.
  • DON’T leave pets unsupervised by a space heater or a fireplace. They can easily knock it over, starting a fire and can quickly injure their tails or be burned if they get to close to it.
  • DON’T leave water bowls outside to freeze! Pets cannot just lick the ice as they can harm there tongues, plus water can be easily polluted. Pets that don’t have access to clean, fresh water are more likely to drink out of dirty puddles full of poisons that could cause death.

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