Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cold Weather Tips for Pets

Cold Weather Tips for Pets from the Humane Society of Missouri

Don't forget your pets now that cold weather is here. Remember that they have to endure the same bitter temperatures as we do. Pets rely on us to help them stay warm when the weather is cold. Here are a few tips to keep Fluffy and Fido safe during the cold days of winter.

Bring your pet inside: Don't leave your pet outside in the cold for long periods of time. Wind chill makes the air colder than actual temperature readings. Be attentive to your pet's body temperature and limit time outdoors, especially to prevent frostbite on ears, tail and feet. If you run with your dog, be attentive to cold paws and leave Fido at home if it gets too cold.

Provide adequate shelter: If your dog lives outdoors, you must provide a well-insulated and draft-free doghouse. The opening should face south with a sturdy, flexible covering to prevent icy winds from entering. Keep straw (NOT hay) inside the doghouse. Avoid towels and blankets which can easily dampen and make the space colder.

Beware of antifreeze and rock salt: Antifreeze, which often collects on driveways and roadways, is highly poisonous. Although it smells and tastes good to your pet, it is lethal. If you suspect your pet has ingested antifreeze, contact your veterinarian immediately! Rock salt, used to melt ice on sidewalks, can irritate footpads. Be sure to rinse and dry your pet's feet after being outside.

Dry off wet pets: Towel or blow-dry your pet if he gets wet from rain or snow. It is important to dry and clean his paws to prevent tiny cuts and cracked pads.

Provide plenty of food and water: It takes more energy in the winter to keep body temperature regulated, so your pet needs additional calories if he spends a lot of time outdoors or is a working animal. Also, provide plenty of fresh water. Your pet is just as likely to get dehydrated in the winter as in the summer. Snow is not a substitute for water. And, remember that water can freeze if kept in a bowl outside.

Carefully keep pets warm inside: Keep your pets warm, dry and away from drafts while inside. Tiles and uncarpeted areas might become very cold, so place blankets and pads on floors in these areas. Be careful of supplemental heat sources. Make sure all fireplaces have screens and keep portable heaters out of reach.

Groom regularly: Your pet needs a well-groomed coat to keep him properly insulated. Short or coarse-haired dogs might get extra cold so consider a sweater or a coat. Long-haired dogs should have their paw hair clipped to ease snow removal and the cleaning of their feet.

Woof! Tucker at For Love of a Dog

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