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Title : How to Protect Pets in Cold Weather Previous topic PreviousNext Next topic

All pets need adequate shelter from the elements and insulation against cold weather. Pets should not be left outside for long periods in freezing weather. Cold weather can be hard on pets, just like it can be hard on people. Like humans, they can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite. The young and the senior pets are especially at risk. Sometimes owners forget that their pets are just as accustomed to the warm shelter of the indoors as they are. There are few tips a pet owner can do to keep their pet warm and safe.

1)  Brush your dog vigorously and regularly. The air in most houses becomes dry during the colder months, which depletes moisture from dog skin and fur. Brushing improves skin, coat and circulation.

2)  Take your animals for a winter check-up before winter kicks in. Your veterinarian can check to make sure they don't have any medical problems that will make them more vulnerable to the cold. 

3)  De-icing chemicals may be hazardous. The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice may irritate the pads of your pet’s feet. Wipe the feet with a damp towel every time when coming in from outdoors—even if you don't see salt on the walkways.

4)  A thick-coated dog typically needs grooming in cold weather. The fur can get wet and matted, making it an irritant. Clean fur lofts and holds air in a manner similar to layering clothes, thus helping the animal stay warm.

5)  Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter. Leave the coat longer for more warmth. When you bathe your dog, completely dry him before taking him out for a walk. 

6)  Do not leave antifreeze, coolant or windshield wiper fluid within reach. And do not let pets drink from puddles. These products taste appealing to pets but most are lethal to animals when ingested. So thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle. Also, keep your pets on leash outdoors and steer them far away from any suspect puddles.

7)  Coats and booties can help your pet stay warm. Look for coats or sweaters with high collars or a turtleneck that covers the pet from the base of the tail on top to the belly underneath.

8)  Keep an eye on your pet's water. Sometimes owners don't realize that a water bowl has frozen and their pet can't get anything to drink. Animals that don't have access to clean, unfrozen water are more likely to drink out of puddles or gutters, which can be polluted with oil, antifreeze, household cleaners, and other chemicals.

9)  Limit time outdoors, especially to prevent frostbite on ear tips, paws and the end of the tail. If you suspect frostbite, seek veterinary attention.

10) If your pet lives outside, make sure there is some sort of shelter or lifted surface—preferably with a bed, warm blanket or pillow, or lined with straw as insulation—and off the cold ground.

11)  Provide plenty of food and water. It takes more energy and calories in the winter to regulate your pet's temperature—especially if your pet spends significant time outside. Discuss your pet's nutritional requirements with your veterinarian.

12) Check your dog's paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding. During a walk, a sudden lameness may be due to an injury or may be due to ice accumulation between his/her toes.

13) If your pet is whining, shivering, seems anxious, slows down or stops moving, seems weak, or starts looking for warm places to burrow, get them back inside quickly because they are showing signs of hypothermia. Frostbite is harder to detect, and may not be fully recognized until a few days after the damage is done. If you suspect your pet has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your veterinarian immediately. 

14) Just like human, pets prefer comfortable sleeping places and may change their location based on their need for more or less warmth. Give them some safe options to allow them to vary their sleeping place to adjust to their needs. 

15) If your pet is prone to chewing, do not use blankets or material that can be ingested. Cedar shavings can be irritating to the skin, so use with caution depending on your pet's hair coat.

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