Tips to keep pets safe in cold weather
Cold weather creates serious health threats for pets. The American Veterinary Medical Association offers these tips for keeping pets safe this winter.
Stay inside: Keep pets inside during cold weather. Dogs and cats are not more resistant than people to cold weather because of their fur. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia. No pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather.
Make some noise: A warm vehicle engine can be an appealing heat source for outdoor and feral cats, but it’s deadly. Check underneath your car, bang on the hood and honk the horn before starting the engine to encourage feline hitchhikers to abandon their roost under the hood.
Check the paws: Check your dog’s paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding.
Play dress-up: If your dog has a short coat or seems bothered by the cold weather, consider a sweater or dog coat, but make sure to remove wet pet clothes as wet sweaters or coats can actually make your dog colder.
Wipe down: During walks, your dog’s feet, legs and belly may pick up deicers, antifreeze or other chemicals that could be toxic. Wipe down or wash your pet’s feet, legs and belly to remove these chemicals and reduce the risk that your dog will be poisoned by licking them off.
Keep them home: Limit car travel to only that which is necessary, and don’t leave your pet unattended in the vehicle.
Avoid ice: When walking your dog, stay away from frozen ponds, lakes and other water. If your dog breaks through the ice it could be deadly. And a rescue attempt could put both of your lives in jeopardy.
Provide shelter: If you are unable to keep your dog inside during cold weather, provide him/her with a warm, solid shelter against wind, unlimited access to fresh, non-frozen water and bedding that is thick, dry and changed regularly.
Recognize problems: If your pet is whining, shivering, seems anxious, slows down, seems weak or starts looking for warm places, get them back inside quickly because they are showing signs of hypothermia. If you suspect your pet has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your veterinarian immediately.
For more information the American Veterinary Medical Association at Avma.org.
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