As winter is in full effect in our neighborhood, and we sit nestled in our warm beds, we are reminded of how fortunate we are to have compassionate owners that think about their four-legged friends’ needs.
Winter weather can takes its toll on cats, dogs and other pets as well. Here are some suggestions we have to help protect your pet during these dangerous times:
- Time and Temperature Awareness – dogs differ in their tolerance for winter weather. A Chihuahua may only tolerate a few minutes outside at a freezing temperature, while an Alaskan Malamute may enjoy romping for hours. Like all good parents, sometimes we need to decide when it’s time for the kids to come in from the cold.
- Slip Hazards – be mindful of ice accumulation along deck stairs and sidewalks. Despite our four legs, we can still slip and fall like our parents. These falls could result in pulled muscles, torn ligaments or even broken bones.
- Rock Salt – pay attention to the type of salt that you buy to de-ice walkways. The large coarse salt granules often get stuck between our toes and are painful to walk on. Consider one of the products with small fine granules as these are gentler on our paws.
- Type of Salt – most of us are smart enough not to eat the salt granules on the sidewalks, but occasionally we cannot help ourselves. Most commercial salts are relatively safe and will lead to stomach upset if ingested. When given the choice, products containing sodium chloride (i.e. table salt) tend to be safer than products containing calcium. A tip when you are purchasing a salt is if it contains chemical names that you are unfamiliar with, it’s best to choose a different product.
- Visibility – since it is dark by the time mom and dad return from work, be sure to wear reflective clothing when taking us for walks around the neighborhood. Placing a reflective collar will help to keep us safe as well.
- Car Engines – look for footprints leading up to your car. Many cats climb onto the engine block of parked cars for warmth. If you see tiny footprints leading towards your car, tap the side of the car and make noise to give our feline friends a chance to run away before starting your vehicle. We have seen many cats have been seriously injured this way.
- Outdoor Housing – for dogs housed outdoors throughout the year, it is extremely important to take certain precautions. All dogs need a refuge from the cold. Shelters should be clean and dry, they should have clean bedding (i.e. straw, fleece blankets, etc) to help insulate their bodies from the frozen ground. The opening of the shelter should face away from prevailing wind direction to avoid filling with snow and ice. Pets need access to clean water at all times, this may require heated water sources to prevent the water bowl from freezing. Likewise, food should be offered in a clean dry place to avoid turning into a popsicle. These same suggestions hold true for other outdoor animals as well; cats, rabbits or other small animals.
We hope you find these winter safety tips helpful! Please feel free to post any comments or questions below.
That’s all for today folks, stay warm!
Annie, Floyd, Eric Brooks, DVM
Stow Kent Animal Hospital
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