With the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year when the sun is at the lowest point in the sky, we will finally welcome the beginning of winter on Monday. For many parts of the United States, this means cold weather, winter storms and potentially peril conditions.
Already, a nor’easter covers the central Atlantic and Northeast with snow and freezing rain. During these cold months, it’s important to keep an eye on your pets and follow some simple tips to protect them.
Get ready for the cold weather
- Plan ahead and monitor cold weather alerts.
- Unless there are significant power outages, most cold weather episodes and winter storms are “shelter in place” events, so the need for pets must be planned at home.
- Keep your pet preparation kit well stocked and ready — in the event of a winter storm, you may not be able to leave your house for several days.
- Leave your pets ‘ coats a little longer in winter to provide more warmth. This summer” short cut ” from your groomer should be avoided in cold weather. If you have short-haired breeds, get them a coat or sweater that covers them from the neck to the tail and around the belly
Winter Pet Care
- If you bathe your dogs in cold weather, make sure they are completely dry before taking them outside for a romp or walk.
- If you let your dogs walk in bad weather, keep them on a leash. It is easier for a dog to get lost in winter storms — more dogs are lost in winter than in any other season. (And don’t forget to microchip and put identification tags on your dogs and cats!)
- Leave your pets if you have frozen nearby ponds, lakes or rivers, as loose animals can break the ice and quickly succumb to hypothermia before ice rescue personnel arrive. Never attempt an ice rescue of a pet yourself-leave it to trained professionals.
- When working to break your new puppy at home, remember that puppies are more sensitive to cold than mature dogs. In cold weather or bad weather, you may need to opt for a paper workout for your new pet rather than taking the puppy outside.
- Keep your pets indoors, during the day and at night. Just because they have fur does not mean they can withstand cold temperatures.
- If dogs are left outside, they should have a draft-free shelter large enough to stand and turn around, but small enough to store body heat. Use a layer of straw or other bedding materials to insulate it from the cold. Make sure that the entrance to the shelter is away from the direction of the incoming wind and snow.
- Keep your cats inside. Cats can freeze in cold weather without protection. Sometimes cats left outside in cold weather seek protection and warmth under the hoods of cars and are injured or killed when the ignition is turned on. If you hit hard on the hood of your car several times before starting the engine, you will avoid a tragic situation. (This also applies to wild animals in cold weather).
Outdoor pet precautions
- If your pet is outside in cold weather:
- Remember that staying warm requires extra calories. Outdoor animals usually need more calories in winter, so feed them accordingly when the temperature drops. Talk to your veterinarian for advice on proper nutrition.
- Watch your pet outside fresh water bowl. If it is not heated, you may need to refresh it more often because it freezes in cold weather.
- Salt and defrost: many animals like to go outside to let off steam and stomp in the snow, but many people use salt and powerful chemicals on their sidewalks to combat ice build-up. Clean your pets ‘ paws, legs and belly thoroughly after being in the open air to prevent the absorption of toxic substances and prevent their pads from being dry and irritated. Signs of toxic ingestion are excessive drooling, vomiting and get down.
- Ice and snow: if you let your pets in from a walk or rage outside, wipe their paws and underside-get these ice balls back as soon as possible, as they can cause frostbite. Once outside, check your pets ‘ paws, ears and tails for frostbite. Frozen skin usually appears pale or gray and can be treated by wrapping the area in a dry towel to gradually warm the area. Check with your veterinarian if you doubtful frostbite.
- Use non-toxic antifreeze. Antifreeze is excellent for pets, but even a very small amount can be deadly. Look for a “safe” non-toxic antifreeze, consider using products containing propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol, and make sure all dirt is cleaned immediately and thoroughly. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you think your animals have ingested antifreeze!