Despite their fur coats, most house pets need extra help in dealing with the extremes of cold weather.
Pet Care in Winter, by Dr. Ashley Priddy
COLD WEATHER PROTECTION
1. Don’t leave your pets outside for long periods of time in below-freezing temperatures. This includes big, furry dogs and even those especially bred for colder climates, such as Huskies.
2. Elderly and very young pets tend to need shorter outdoor exposure and extra protection (i.e., a toasty sweater or a water-resistant coat) from the cold. This is particularly true for small, short-haired pets, and those who have cold-sensitive medical conditions (such as heart disease or arthritis). When in doubt, check with your vet.
3. Continue monthly flea/tick and heart worm prevention. Depending on where you live, these pests might disappear when it gets colder, but most winters include a number of days when the temperature rises above freezing. To be safe, it is best to continue parasite prevention all year long.
4. Wash off feet and belly areas whenever your pets return from a snowy or icy outdoor walk or play period. Many folks use either salt or other substances to help melt ice that can easily irritate paws, skin and other sensitive areas.
5. Keep your dog off frozen lakes and ponds. If the ice breaks you can have a hard time saving your pet, and may even end up taking a freezing bath as part of your adventure.
6. Don’t take pets on car trip where they will have to spend a lot of time in a cold, unheated car.
7. Make sure you always have extra food on hand for your pets. If it gets icy outside, it may be difficult to visit the store or vet clinic to get supplies. Also, see that your dog or cat always has access to an ample supply of fresh water .
8. Clean up any antifreeze spillage (or coolant spillage in the summer). Although some of the newer-generation products may be less toxic, they can still cause severe health problems and are often enticing to dogs and cats because of their typically sweet flavor.
9. Before you start your car, bang on the car hood! This may sound silly, but lots of furry creatures, including cats, may get underneath the hood of a car to get warm in the winter. Feel free to hit the hood of your vehicle to scare them off before the engine starts running.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Dr. Ashley W. Priddy is licensed by the North American Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners and the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, and is also a Member of the United Kingdom Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. He owns the Dallas Veterinary Clinic in Dallas, Texas.