Winter can be a beautiful time of year, but it can be a dangerous time as well. By taking some extra precautions, it can be enjoyable to you and your pet.
Just because your pet comes equipped with a fur coat does not mean that they are automatically ready for the dropping temperatures. Some owners will leave their animals outside for extended periods of time, thinking that all animals are adapted to live outdoors, but our furry companions become accustomed to the warm shelter of the indoors as we are. When you need to take your pet outside, stay outside with them, when you are cold enough to go inside, they probably are too. Sweaters and coats help a little, but you cannot depend on them entirely to keep your pet warm, because pets lose most of their body heat from the pads of their feet, their ears, and their respiratory tract.
Animals that are not generally in good health should not be exposed to winter weather for a long period. Very young and very old animals are vulnerable to the cold as well. Regardless of their health, though, no pets should stay outside for unlimited amounts of time in freezing cold weather.
Pets that go outside can pick up rock salt, ice, and chemical ice melts in their footpads. By wiping your pet’s feet with a damp washcloth, when your pet comes in from outside, you can remove any debris. There are “pet friendly” ice-melts and salts available that are less harmful to your pet.
Watch for indoor hazards as well. Space heaters and fireplaces can warm up a room wonderfully, but can pose a problem if your pet gets too close. If your dog or cat snuggles up to the warmth, keep an eye out to make sure that no tails or paws come in contact with flames, heating coils, or hot surfaces. Make sure that all heat sources are stable and cannot be bumped or knocked over by your pet.
The cold can be hard on the joints of elderly and arthritic pets, leaving them stiff and tender. They may have difficulty climbing stairs or jumping onto furniture. Take extra precautions to make it easier for them to get around. Make sure they have a thick, soft bed in a warm room to sleep. Also, watch stiff and arthritic pets if you walk them outside; a bad slip on the ice could be very painful and cause a significant injury. The best way to guard your animals against the cold is keeping a close eye on them to make sure they are comfortable.