Golden rules for keeping pets warm
Winter is here! Dig out those winter jumpers, dust off the skis and chop up some firewood. As cold weather starts creeping into our homes, remember, pets need to be kept warm too. You can keep your pet warm, happy and healthy throughout the winter by following these simple tips.
- Inspect your furnace: Check your furnace for any carbon monoxide leaks before you start using it. Carbon monoxide is the odorless gas that causes serious illness, and even death, in both people and pets. Avoid poisoning at home as your pet spends more time indoors this winter.
- Keep the pet indoors when temps drop: If it’s too cold outside for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet. Never leave your pet outside for extended periods of time when temperatures get too low.
- Know the breed: While it’s best to keep your pet indoors in extreme cold, some breeds are better suited for cold temperatures than others. Many dogs love to get some time outdoors in the snow because their winter coat can protect them. Read up on your breed to learn more about his or her coat and how your dog’s particular breed tolerates the cold.
- Maintain good health: By maintaining a healthy weight all year, your pet will be much less prone to arthritis during the winter months. Just like humans, pets should be eating properly and getting regular exercise to help maintain a healthy weight.
- Grooming: Many pet owners only groom their pets in the spring and summer months when they begin to shed their winter coat. Year-round grooming is beneficial too, however. Just remember never to shave a pet as they need their coats to regulate their body temperature and stay warm during the winter.
- Be careful around outdoor water: If you take your pet out for a park or a pond during the winter months, never allow them to walk out on and frozen, or partially frozen bodies of water. Animals can easily fall through the ice, and it’s very difficult for them to escape or for humans to rescue them.
- Be extra conscious about senior pets: Arrange a thick, soft and a warm bed for older pets during the winter months. Cold temperatures can be harder on older dogs because of health issues such as degenerative joint diseases. If your pet seems to be experiencing pain, talk to your vet about options to make him or her more comfortable.
- Drinking water: Always allow your pet access to clean, fresh water. Even though temps are cooler, your pet still needs to drink just as much water as he or she does during the warmer months of the year.
- Get moving: Just like humans, pets can become a bit more lethargic during the winter months when temperatures are colder and going outside for exercise becomes less appealing. But, just as is the case for humans, it is important for your pet to move and get regular exercise during the winter too. Plan short outdoor activities as well as some indoor activities to help you both stay fit and active.
- Keep a towel handy: Not only can winter paws make a mess in your house, de-icers and other chemicals used to keep sidewalks and streets safe in the winter can be dangerous for your pet. It’s always a good idea to wipe your pet’s paws off with a towel after you’ve been out and about. And keeping a towel handy to dry their paws and coat when they come inside can also help you keep your floors and furniture clean during the winter months.
- Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia: The risk of these conditions rises significantly when temperatures drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Signs of hypothermia include slow pulse, shallow breathing, collapse or unconsciousness. Frostbite affects poorly insulated body parts like ears and paws. It’s always a good idea to monitor the temperature in your home, or wherever your pet is when you are away. And if you notice any symptoms of frostbite or hypothermia after your pet has been outdoors, contact your vet immediately.
- Stick to fenced dog parks: If you’re going to take your dog to the dog park to run freely, it’s best to stick to enclosed parks during the winter. The death rate of pets and the number of pets that go missing increases during winter, possibly because dogs can lose scent in the snow or ice, making it more difficult to find their way back to you if you get separated.
- Avoid salt and other winter chemicals: Avoid roads and sidewalks where you know salt has been used to melt ice. As mentioned earlier, it’s always a good idea to wipe your pets paws off after being outdoors, because you can never be certain what chemicals may have been used where. Salt can cause stomach upset when your pet licks its paws. And some of the chemicals used in salts, de-icers — and especially anti-freeze that may have leaked from a car onto an outdoor surface — can be fatal to your pet if ingested.
- Don’t leave your pet in car: Never leave your pet in the car for an extended period of time during the winter. Once you’ve turned your car’s engine off and the heater stops, temperatures inside the vehicle can drop quickly. If you’re traveling in an RV in the winter months, always make sure you’re remotely monitoring the vehicle’s temperature during any time you are away and your pet is in the vehicle.
Follow these tips and take care of your furry friends this winter. Make them feel comfortable as you do!