How to Keep Your Pets Happy and Healthy and Avoid Cold-Weather

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Did you know that you need to prepare your pets for winter, just like you do for yourself, your car, and your house? It’s true! By taking some precautions, you can help your pet avoid harm when the cold weather bears its frigid claws. 

winter pet safety tips

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Keep Your Pet Indoors as Much as Possible During Freezing Temperatures

Not all pets live indoors, but when the weather is below freezing, your pet will need a break from the cold. The best rule of thumb is to always have your pet indoors, except when they need to go out to relieve themselves or go for a walk. When they do go out in freezing temperatures, you should consider what precautions you need to take to keep your pet safe:

  • Boots. Generally made for dogs, boots can protect the sensitive pads of their feet, which can quickly become frostbitten when exposed to cold temperatures. In addition, if you are walking your dog on public roads, boots will protect them from abrasions from road salt or ice defrosting products that are not safe for pets. Dogs will not show signs of ailment from lower temperatures (frostbite, etc.) until after it has set in, so owners must be paying close attention to time spent outside and conditions. Frostbite can set in on a dog’s paws in as little as 30 minutes so it is particularly important to keep walks short and provide foot protection if needed. If it is snowy or icy outside, you may want to spend a few minutes removing frozen snow and ice that builds up between your dog’s toes and paws that continues to supply freezing temperatures to the pads even after inside.
  • Avoid salted ice melt. Wee see neighbourhoods, municipalities, and homeowners putting down ice melt on walkways and street in the winters. If ,a dog ingests these products it can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, even if they only lick their paws after a walk. Fortunately, it would require ingesting a significant amount to cause harm, but to avoid the discomfort, it would be a good idea to wash their paws after walking in areas treated with ice melt. If you are a homeowner treating your walkways, use one of the many dog-safe varieties or something simple like sand or natural kitty litter if you just need a little traction.
  • Coats. If you can get your cat to wear a coat, you may have the most docile cat on the planet. Dogs, however, are usually more willing to dress the part for the cold winter. Use your judgment for dogs with thick fur, who may not need coverage, except on the coldest of days. However, it is essential to remember that smaller dogs may need extra protection even those with thicker coats. They are less able to regulate themselves in cold weather.
  • Outdoor Hazards. In addition to the dangers created by the cold, there are other potential issues you need to be aware of when your pets go outside in the winter. These include walking on bodies of water where the ice may be thin, antifreeze spills, and a much greater potential for car accidents due to a lack of sidewalks. Cats, who are more likely to free-roam and come and go as they please, should have a warm place to rest and access to water when they can’t get immediately inside.
  • Double Check Before You Start your Engine. Cats, in particular, are drawn to a warm engine during the cold winter days. Before you get into your car, give the hood a quick knock to provide a fair warning to any animals that have crawled into your engine for warmth. Even if your pet is safely inside, you may avoid a tragedy with the neighbor’s pets.
  • Dry Skin. Just like humans, dogs can get dry, cracked skin in cold, dry weather. This is most evident on their nose and pads, but they can get it anywhere. If it’s an issue with their skin, an oatmeal shampoo can provide relief if they are showing signs of discomfort or itching. Similarly, a moisturizing shampoo can help to correct and prevent dry skin. There are a large variety of moisturizing products for the nose and pads, specifically for dogs; however, Aquaphor is a common product that works well and can serve double duty for humans and dogs.
  • Preventative Medicine. People think it’s safe to stop using heartworm, flea, and tick preventatives in winter months, but it’s really just a high-risk, low-reward gamble. Fleas and ticks can move from host to host, regardless of the weather. Heartworm comes from mosquito bites, so in some cases, there might be months where the chances of a mosquito bite are near zero. The issue is deciding when to start back up on the preventative. If you start too late and the dog has already been exposed, you are dealing with a potentially fatal scenario at worst or expensive heartworm treatments at best. This is truly an “ounce of prevention, pound of cure” scenario.

Winter Hazards in the Home

Even for indoor pets, winter weather can be hazardous due to added heating elements within the home. Pet owners should be especially aware of where they place space heaters, which can be dangerous for both four-legged and two-legged creatures. Those with a fireplace or woodstove will need to keep pets clear whenever the doors are open. For especially rambunctious pets, it may be a good idea to provide a barrier between them and anything that could burn them. 

Be Mindful of Pets During Holiday Celebrations

Just like us, pets can be overly excited or very stressed during holiday gatherings. It is essential to know your pet’s tendencies well enough to decide if they can handle themselves during an event in your home. You may need to find a safe place to contain them for very stressed pets

The holidays can have other hazards for pets, as well. Cats can develop severe problems and need emergency intervention if they ingest ribbon or tinsel. In addition, they will often need to be kept away from Christmas trees with wires they can chew, as will rabbits. Dogs, especially those whose humans are open to sharing food, can be in danger of overindulging, just like their human counterparts. Remember that not all human food is safe for your pets, and only share it carefully and sparingly. 

Keep Up With your Pet’s Vaccinations

Although this isn’t specifically a problem in the winter months, we all tend to stay close to home when it’s cold. However, just because your pets might not be outside as much, it doesn’t mean they might not still be in danger. Free-roaming animals are especially vulnerable to infection, and it is vitally important to keep their vaccinations up-to-date. 

Enjoy Everything Winter Has to Offer

Remember that a little vigilance can go a long way when it comes to your beloved pets. With the above precautions, you and your pets can enjoy winter and all it offers and be ready to usher in the spring with good health.

About Cheap Pricks

Matt Bowler and Kristen Duhr founded cheap Pricks. The clinic offers low-cost, preventative care for dogs and cats. Cheap Pricks is the first of its kind and offers a much-needed service to pet owners in the area.

The clinic has been in the pet care industry for over a decade. Bowler and Duhr have a wealth of experience that they are putting to use in opening Cheap Pricks. They understand what it takes to run a successful pet care clinic and are committed to providing affordable services to their patients.

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