Brrrrrrrr, it’s freezing. Here are some tips for taking care of our furry friends this winter.
Watch the Temperature: Even if your pet spends most of its time outside, consider bringing them in or offering additional winter protection when the temperature falls below about 25 degrees. Shorthaired dogs, cats and puppies should come in when it gets below 40 degrees.
Brush Your Pet: Animals will shed their summer coat when growing their winter coat and you’ll notice big clumps of hair being left behind. A matted coat is not very effective in keeping your pet warm. A well-groomed coat is much better at insulating and brushing out all that loose hair and it will make you both happier.
Offer Protection: Provide a draft free doghouse that is raised a few inches off the ground. Cover the bottom with straw or cedar shavings for insulation and replenish occasionally throughout the winter. The doghouse should be large enough for the dog to lie down and turn around comfortably but small enough to retain body heat. Face the opening away from prevailing winds and cover the opening with plastic or burlap for added protection.
Water: Always be sure there is unfrozen water available. Check it often because small bowls of water can freeze in no time at all. Animals need water to burn calories, which they must do to stay warm. Use a plastic or ceramic bowl that doesn’t tip. Don’t use a metal bowl. We all know the results of sticking our tongue to a cold flagpole.
Snow Melt: If you use ice-melting chemicals, they can irritate or burn your pet’s feet. It can also make them sick if they ingest it, so wipe off their feet with a damp towel if they walk through that stuff. A coating of Vaseline or a spray of cooking oil used before taking your dog for a walk will help keep the pads of their feet from cracking during cold winter weather.
Wake Sleeping Cats: If you park your car outside, bang on the hood before you start it up again. A warm engine is a great place for a cat to take a nap and starting your car with a cat in the engine is something you definitely do not want to experience. Scare them away first!
Antifreeze is like a sweet syrup to animals but most brands are poisonous. It takes as little as 1 teaspoon to kill a pet. The symptoms of antifreeze poisoning are similar to drunkenness; lack of coordination, staggering, excessive water drinking and vomiting. Clean up any spills or drips and call your vet immediately if you suspect poisoning. Look for brands that are safe for pets.
Our pet’s welfare is as important as our own. With just a little effort and consideration we can make the winter experience a safe and cozy one for the animals that add so much enjoyment to our lives.