Winter time is here, and now is the time to take all the extra precautions to keep your pets safe in the cold weather. If your pets stay indoors, there are less things to worry about then if you have outdoor pets. Indoor animals can keep warm and dry, but if your pets are outdoors, they run the risk of serious illness or even death caused by the cold. Even if you have a dog house, that may not be enough protection against harsh winds and cold. Make sure the doorway is covered or closed, and be sure to have a lot of warm blankets. Older pets should never be left outside in cold climates, and if your pet does not have a thick coat, then it will not do well in extreme cold. Here are some things to watch out for in the winter months.
Metal bowls - Anything metal that you keep food or water in can become a great hazard to pets outside in the cold. Pets tongues can get stuck to the cold metal and injure themselves by trying to pull away or run. As a solution, switch to plastic or ceramic bowls until the temperature gets warmer again.
Ice salt - Chemicals and salt that are used to melt the winter snow can be toxic to your dogs or cats. They can pick it up on their paws and lick off the salt, causing upset stomach, or other sickness. Be sure to wash your pet’s paws in warm water after walks or extended periods outside.
Car engines - Before you start up your car, always check under the car to be sure no animals have crawled up into the engine. Cats and raccoons are drawn to the heat of your car, and you may find one cuddled up beneath the car engine to keep out of the harsh weather. If you start the car before checking, it could cause the animal serious injury or death. To avoid damage to them and your car, bang on the hood or honk your horn to scare any animals away.
Dehydration - If your cat or dog spends a lot of time outside you’ll need to increase the amount of food and water you give them, because keeping warm requires a large amount of energy. Try a heated bowl to prevent the water from freezing. Provide them with extra food because of the calories they burn generating heat.
Lost pets - More pets are reported lost in the winter months than in any other season. This is due to the fact that they lose track of the scent of home, because of snow and sleet. This causes them to become disoriented and run away. Be sure to keep your dogs on a leash at all times during walks. This is also a good practice if you live near water. An animal may run over to a pond, and fall through the ice. During these cold months, keep a close eye on your pets.
Frostbite - No matter how long your pet is exposed to temperatures below zero, they can still get frostbite. Most cases are seen in the feet, nose or ears. Check to see if skin looks grey or white and may be peeling. The best way to prevent it is to remove any snow or ice from their fur and paws right away.
The winter months can be harsh not only on us, but also on our pets, so take some extra time to ensure the best environment for them in the cold weather. If you do, you and your pets can enjoy the season a little better.
Sheena Diane - Freelance Writer