Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe This Winter  

Posted by — Kim in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Here's a great article that I thought I would pass on...hope you find it informative! –Kim

Cold Weather Hazards that Threaten Your PetDec. 10, 2010
As temperatures continue to plummet, pet owners must ensure the safety and well-being of their animals.
Shelter, food and water: Cats should be kept inside at all times, year-round, to protect from the many life-threatening dangers always present outside. Dogs should also live inside. However, if your dog spends a lot of time outside, you are required by law to provide proper shelter. Outdoor dogs also need bedding and additional fat in their diets during the winter to help build up natural insulation. Make sure your pet has plenty of fresh, clean water in a secure, non-tip dish at all times. Check the water bowl frequently to make sure that it hasn't frozen.
Keep them safe: Snow and ice increase an animal's chances of becoming disoriented and lost if roaming the streets. Bad weather conditions make it extra difficult for cars to stop, increasing the animal's chance of getting hit. Keeping pets indoors and walking your dog on a leash will prevent such tragedies.
Beware of ice, salt, and snow: Jagged ice and sidewalk salt can injure or irritate a dog's foot pads. After returning home from a walk, check the foot pads and wipe off any salt or ice with a damp towel. Also, dry your dog thoroughly whenever it comes in from the snow. Consider using doggy boots for little feet.
Danger of frostbite: Even though dogs and cats have a fur coat, most cannot endure severe cold for more than 10 to 15 minutes. A companion animal left outdoors can get frostbite and even freeze to death. Signs of frostbite include skin that is pale and cool to the touch, with decreased sensation in the affected area. If you suspect frostbite, gently warm the area with warm, not hot, water and then take the animal to a veterinarian. After thawing, there may be pain or redness on the frostbitten area. Once an area has been frozen it can become cold and frostbitten again more easily. Consider a doggy coat for your smaller canine friend.
Keep away from anti-freeze: Animals are attracted to this substance by its sweet taste. It can be fatal if ingested, so keep all anti-freeze bottles out of your pet's reach. Also be sure to clean up any spills in your garage or driveway immediately. If your cat or dog should swallow anti-freeze – or any poison – contact your veterinarian immediately.
Honk car's horn: In cold weather, cats allowed outdoors may crawl beneath cars and climb up inside the engine compartment seeking warmth and shelter. This can lead to injuries or death when the engines are started. To prevent such an occurrence, keep your cat indoors at all times. To protect stray cats, knock on your car's hood or sound your horn before starting the car in cold weather.
Keep them groomed: Animals tend to shed hair less during the cold months, but still require regular brushing. Cats generally do not need a bath – they clean themselves. Dogs should be bathed only if needed and not more than once a month. When bathing any animal, be sure to use a shampoo that is specifically safe for a cat or dog and follow label directions completely.
Holiday hazards: Mistletoe, holly and poinsettias are all poisonous to pets. Make sure your holiday tree is steady so it can't be knocked over. Protect your cat or dog from drinking stagnant Christmas tree water, eating candy, chocolate or potentially injurious ornaments, tinsel and trimming, or nibbling on the cords from decorations. Keep an eye on your pets to make sure they don't slip out the door as your visitors come and go. Do not give a cat or dog as a gift. Give a gift certificate for a pet adoption from a shelter and allow the recipient to select an animal that is appropriate for their lifestyle. Make sure your pet has a variety of toys or make your own.
© Copyright 2010 Sun-Times Media, LLC

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