We want to wish you and your pets a Merry Christmas! When your pets are healthy and comfortable (and spending time with you), the holiday is an especially happy one. Protect your pets from the cold weather with these winter pet safety tips from the Humane Society, the ASPCA, and the AVMA.
Baby, It’s Cold Outside
Keep your pet inside for the majority of the time, if possible. Animals, like people, are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia during cold snaps. If your pet is outdoors for a substantial amount of time, provide him with a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow for movement but small enough to retain body heat. The floor should be a few inches off the ground and covered with an insulating layer of cedar shavings or straw. Ensure that the shelter doesn’t face the wind, and cover the door with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic. Change the water dish frequently, and substitute metal bowls for plastic ones.
Even if your cat is curled up inside your house, a neighborhood cat may have taken refuge near your car or under the hood for warmth. Before you start the engine, check around the car, bang on the hood, and honk the horn to prompt kitties to move to a safer location. Remember to store antifreeze and other chemicals out of pets’ reach. Antifreeze can be lethal for pets, so clean up any spills immediately.
A longer winter coat protects you best during cold weather – the same goes for your dog! Let your canine friend enjoy the warmth of a longer coat instead of a short style. If your four-legged buddy is short-haired, consider outfitting him in a coat or sweater with plenty of coverage. Have several on hand, so you always have a dry one ready for him.
Healthy, adult dogs may be ready for a little romp outdoors (on the leash, of course), but remember that not all pups fare so well; puppies, elderly dogs, dogs with special medical conditions, and short-haired breeds are more susceptible to cold-weather problems. Even if your dog seems tolerant of the cold, you should still keep a close eye on him. Make sure he’s not whining or shivering, and get him back inside quickly if he shows any signs of hypothermia. Consult your veterinarian immediately if you have serious concerns. Increase food supply for pets who have been playing outdoors.
Your dog’s paws are almost as cute as his sweet face, so remember to keep them in healthy condition. Check your dog’s paws frequently for cold-weather ails, like cracking or bleeding. You’ll also want to clean his paws after he’s been outdoors. Salt or other chemical remnants can cause irritation; in addition, you don’t want your pet ingesting them later on if he licks his paws.
Just in Case
Sometimes Jack Frost packs a wallop into his winter punch, so be prepared for severe weather and possible power outages. Prepare an emergency kit for your pet, and stock up on pet food. You should also have enough of his medicine on hand to last through at least five days.