Cold Weather Pet Care

With the winter months upon us, you’ll find your pet needs a little extra care from you. Here are some points to remember during the upcoming months:

  • Cats and dogs need protection from wet and cold, whether they get it inside your house or inside their own. Cats should be kept inside as well as young puppies, very old dogs and small or shorthaired dogs. Many people still do not realize that adequate shelter is a requirement within the Animal Protection Act. If you have a winter tolerant breed and must keep the dog outdoors, an outdoor dog needs a dry, insulated, elevated dog house with clean, dry bedding and a flap over the opening to keep drafts out. Straw is an excellent bedding material. Blankets and carpet are not suitable.
  • A bowl of frozen water can’t help a thirsty pet. Check outdoor water bowls often when it’s below freezing, and break the ice or refill with water as necessary. Snow is NOT an adequate substitute.
  • If your dog is outdoors a lot in the winter he/she will need more calories to produce body heat, so increase the amount you feed him or her by 20 – 30 percent.
  • Chemicals used to melt snow on sidewalks can irritate or burn the pads of pets’ feet. Wipe them with a damp cloth before your pet licks them and burns its mouth. Also remember to remove the ice between his/her paw pads when your dog comes back from his walk.
  • THINK AND THUD! Cats may crawl up under your car seeking shelter and warmth near the engine. They may get caught in the fan and seriously injured when the engine starts. Open the hood of your car, honk your horn a few times, or slap the hood noisily with your hand before starting the engine on cold days to startle any animal sleeping there.
  • Antifreeze tastes good to pets, but it is a deadly poison. The most likely source of antifreeze is spilled or leaking from your car in your garage or on your driveway. Even the smallest puddle must be flushed with water and cleaned immediately. Antifreeze should be stored or disposed of in sealed containers well out of reach of children and animals. It takes less than a teaspoonful to kill a cat. Symptoms of antifreeze poisoning include staggering, lethargy and obvious signs that the animal is in pain. Pets with suspected antifreeze poisoning should be rushed to a veterinarian IMMEDIATELY as it runs its course very quickly. Jaundicing in the animal is a sure sign death is not far away.
  • Your Christmas tree can look like a giant playground to a curious pet. Tree decorations, pine needles, string and ribbons are often eaten by pets causing bowel obstruction. Electric tree lights or other cords may also be chewed by pets. The Christmas tree itself should also be secured in some fashion so your cat or dog can’t knock it over. Even a small kitten can topple a tree.
  • Place holiday plants where your pets and children can’t reach them. Many of these plants are poisonous. Mistletoe, poinsettias, holly, Jerusalem cherry, Christmas Rose, Christmas berry and the Star of Bethlehem all contain parts that are poisonous. Even if the plants are out of the way, be careful that leaves and berries don’t fall off where your pet can get them.
  • Garbage eating and food theft are pastimes many pets enjoy during the Christmas season. During all of the hustle and bustle, pets are overlooked and often eat holiday foods which can be dangerous for them. Poultry bones splinter very easily and may result in choking or lacerations in the mouth or digestive tract when eaten by pets. Chocolate can also poison your dog. The ingredients caffeine and theobromine cause brain and heart abnormalities. Under the table treats from many generous relatives often lead to vomiting and diarrhea in pets.
  • Christmas day is unlike any other day of the year. Take a few minutes to take your dog for a walk or spend a few quiet moments playing with your cat. It will help you to relax and do you both a world of good.