Caring For Your Pets During the Winter

The arctic temperatures and significant snowfall that swept through Boulder and the rest of Colorado this week was a wake-up call to all of us: Winter is here and it plans to stay! For all of you pet owners out there, it is time to start preparing your furry ones for the harsh winter season ahead of us. Check out a few tips below that will help you keep your pets healthy and safe this season.
dogs-that-love-snow-6-223x300Wellness Exam: If you haven’t scheduled the appointment yet, make sure you get your pet in for his/her wellness and preventative care exam. Your pet should be examined at least once a year to make sure they are in good health. Now that the winter season is here, it may be best to get your pet in for an additional exam to make sure they are as healthy as possible for cold weather.
Know Your Pets Limits: Cold tolerance varies from pet to pet, just like people. Their coat, body fat stores, activity level, age and current health all play a role in this. Make sure you are aware of your pets tolerance for colder temperatures and plan accordingly when exposing them to chillier conditions.
Provide Choices: Most our of pets prefer comfortable sleeping places that may change d on their need for more or less warmth. Give your pets some safe options for sleeping and resting this winter to allow them to adjust to changing temperatures.
Stay Indoors: Cats and dogs should be kept inside during cold weather, as they are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia. Thick-coated breeds, such as huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates may be more tolerant than others but no pet should be left outside for long periods of time, especially in frigid weather. Keep your animals inside at all times!
Be on the lookout: A warm vehicle engine is appealing for outdoor cats and it may be your car they choose to nestle into. Make sure you check underneath your car, under the hood, and in the wheel wells before taking off. Honking your horn before starting your engine is a great way to alert them to abandon their new “resting” place.           shutterstock_124435603
Check Paws: Check your pups paws frequently for signs of injury or damage from the cold weather, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding. Often times ice can accumulate between the paws during long walks, causing discomfort, irritation and injury.
Bundle up: If your pet has a short coat or seems to be bothered by the colder weather, consider  investing in a coat or sweater for your furry loved ones. It might be wise to have several on hand so you can use a dry coat or sweater each time you go outside. Wet coats, fleeces and vests will make your pet colder and can lead to illness. You can also protect your pet’s paws by using booties. If you choose to do so, make sure they fit properly!
Wipe down: More often than not, your pets feet, legs and belly will pick up deicers, antifreeze or other chemicals used on slick roadways and sidewalks, all of which are extremely toxic. After long walks, make sure you wipe down and wash your pets paws, legs and underbelly to remove any harsh chemicals to reduce the risk that your pet will be poisoned after licking them off his/her feet or fur. With that said, consider using pet-safe deicers on your property as well in order to protect your pets and others in your neighborhood.
Keep it Close to Home: We often bring our pets along with us on car rides to run errands, but keeping them in the car can be threatening to their health especially during the hot summers, and of course, the cold winters. Limit car travel only when necessary or keep them at home if you plan to be out for a while. Cars heat up and cool down fast, creating uncomfortable and unsafe environments for your pets. Never leave them unattended in your vehicle, especially during extreme weather conditions.
Collar and Microchips: Make sure your pet has a well-fitting collar with updated identification and contact information in case he or she may get lost. Especially in the winter time, many pets may be lost due to heavy snow and ice masking recognizable scents they might normally lead them home. A microchip is another permanent form of identification – but registration must be kept up to date!
Pet-Proofing: Your pet will most likely spending more time in the house during the winter, so it is important to make sure your home is properly pet-proofed. Use space heaters, but with caution around your pets, as they can burn or be knocked over. Continually check your furnace to make sure it is working efficiently and if  you have a bird, make sure its cage is away from any drafts. Also, make sure personal items and other gadgets that may cause harm to your animal are stowed away, especially if your pet is home alone. With more time spent being spent indoors compared to the outdoors during the winter season, your pet may get bored and begin to chew or get into objects around the house, which can pose several threats to your pets health and well-being.
Be Prepared: The winter season also brings the risk for numerous blizzards, snow storms and power outages. Prepare an emergency kit for your family that includes your pet. Have enough food, water, and medication on hand to last at least 5 days in case of an emergency.
SOURCE: American Veterinary Medical Association