While preparing your home and vehicle for cold weather, be sure and take care of the furry family members as well. Here’s a few tips for keeping the animals safe during winter.
- When it is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, it is best to keep your pet indoors. Shorthaired dogs, cats and puppies should be kept indoors when the temperature falls below 40 degrees.
- Be aware of salt and other ice-melting chemicals on the streets and sidewalks. They are an irritant to your pet’s paws and may cause injury if ingested. Use a warm moist cloth to clean off any salt or chemical residues after a walk. Be the first on your block to provide your dog with a set of booties to protect his paws from these harsh and cold chemicals.
- Make sure all outside water sources don’t freeze over. Pets can’t burn the calories they need to stay warm without a fresh supply of water.
- Check your garage and drive-way for antifreeze. Antifreeze tastes sweet to your pet and most brands are poisonous. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet has consumed antifreeze.
- Grooming is important; a matted coat will not protect your pet from the cold. Be watchful of ice or salt that may become entangled in long hair and remove it immediately.
- Don’t let your pet venture onto frozen bodies of water. The ice may be too thin to support his weight and water rescues are both difficult and dangerous for the both of you.
- Be a good kitty Samaritan and slap the hood of your car before starting it; cats often climb next to a warm engine during the night to stay warm.
- Keep snowdrifts from piling up next to your fence providing your pooch a way of escape. Make sure your pets are microchipped and registration is current.
- If you must keep your dog outside for any period of time provide a dry, draft free shelter. It should be large enough for your pet to sit and lay down comfortably but small enough to hold his body heat. The floor should be off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. Turn the shelter away from the wind, and cover the door with a waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.
- If you are flying with a pet make sure the airline provides for your pet’s safety and warmth. Some airlines restrict pets from flying when the temperature dips below a certain point. Call to confirm.
Remember if it’s cold for you it’s cold for your pets too! A common mistake people make is to assume pets are better equipped to handle cold weather just because they are animals. They are not just animals, they are pets. They are the result of thousands of years of genetic reengineering that has left most companion animals completely dependent on our common sense.