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Happy first day of winter! This time of year brings with it some pretty harsh weather in most parts of the country. Here are some tips & tricks to keep your pet safe this season.
1. Temperature Control - Some dogs are more susceptible to the cold than others. Short-coated, thin, elderly, or very young dogs get cold more quickly – so adjust the amount of time they stay outside. If your dog enjoys being outdoors and you will be outside longer than a few minutes, consider outfitting them with a warm pet sweater to keep warm. Hypothermia and frostbite pose major risks to dogs in winter, so remember: if it is too cold for you, it is probably too cold for your dog!
2. Be Mindful of Sleeping Cats - Cats often sleep in the wheel wells of cars during the winter months to keep warm. Prevent injuries by banging loudly on your hood or honking the horn before starting your car. This will wake up the cat and give him a chance to escape before starting the car. Safety first!
3. Winter Paws - During winter walks, your dog’s paws can pick up all kinds of toxic chemicals – salt, antifreeze, or de-icers. Be sure to wipe off your dog’s paws when you return from walks to prevent him from licking it off and becoming sick. Purchase pet-safe de-icers for your home for an extra level of safety. And when wiping off your dog’s paws, remember to check for signs of injury, such as cracked or bleeding paws.
4. Update ID Tags & Leash - More pets become lost in the winter than any other season because snowfall can disguise recognizable scents that would normally help them find their way home. Prevent your pets from becoming lost by keeping dogs leashed on walks and, just in case you are separated from your pets, make sure their collars have up-to-date contact information and they are microchipped.
5. Beware of Ice - When walking your dog, be sure to avoid frozen lakes and ponds. Your dog could be seriously hurt if the ice breaks.
6. Cold Car Dangers - Only take your pets in the car if it is absolutely necessary, and never leave them unattended.
7. Daylight Saving Time - Many of us are relegated to walking our dogs in the dark, and in the winter it gets darker earlier. Keep yourself and your dog safe by wearing reflective gear (clothing, leash, collar, etc) and keeping your dog close when walking on the street.
8. Keep Pets Warm - Ideally all pets should live inside and be where it's warm.If your pets live outdoors primarily, bring them indoors during sub-zero temperatures. For the rest of the winter, provide them with a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow them to sit and lay down comfortably, but small enough to conserve body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. Pets who spend a lot of time outside need more food to replace energy lost from trying to stay warm. Use plastic food and water dishes instead of metal to avoid your pet's tongue from sticking to cold metal.
9. Avoid Antifreeze! Antifreeze attracts cats and dogs because it is very sweet to taste, but it is extremely poisonous and can cause serious illness or death when ingested. Be sure to clean up any antifreeze that spills in your garage, and keep the bottle somewhere your pets cannot access.
10. Be Prepared - Winter brings extreme weather that can cause power outages. Have an emergency plan and make sure they include your pets! Have an emergency kit with enough pet food, water, and medication to last your pets at least five days. Most likely you will never need it, but if you do, you will be thankful you planned ahead!