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With winter weather here, it is time to start thinking about our pets! Cold weather can bring stress for your pet so here are some tips for keeping your animal comfortable and well during this frosty season.

FOR PETS THAT LIVE INSIDE:

  • When your furry friend needs to go outside for a potty break, stay outside with them.  If you’re too cold it is probably too cold for your pet.
  • When you bring your pet back indoors, wipe its paws and belly. When wiping, look for pieces of ice that could be clinging between the toes or on the pads of the foot.  Ice balls trapped in fur can cause frostbite. Wiping your pets down can also help remove salt and other dangerous chemicals that can cause harm. Many times, pets will lick their paws after coming indoors and wiping will help keep them safe.
  • You will want to be particularly careful when taking elderly, arthritic pets outside.  Their bones and joints will become stiff and tender quickly and they may have difficulty moving about in the snow or ice.  You will also want to maintain a short leash if the area is icy.  A bad slip or fall can cause ruptured discs, broken legs or other major injuries.

FOR PETS THAT LIVE OUTSIDE:

  • If it is impossible for you to bring your furry friend inside, be sure you can provide them a clean, dry, and well insulated shelter. Positioning the opening of the shelter away from the direction of snow and wind plus frequently changing insulation such as straw, wood shavings and blankets will help keep your pet warmer.                
  • Be sure to monitor your pet’s availability of fresh water because ice is not a substitute. Check out your local pet store for heated water dishes. While you are at the store, consider your pet’s nutrition too. Outdoor animals require more caloric content in the winter which helps them generate enough energy to ward off the cold weather.
  • Outdoor cats will seek warmth wherever they can find it.  Places such as car engines, outdoor grills and other common areas we don’t think about can cause significant harm to your cat.  If your cat does not move when you start any of these items they can be seriously injured or killed.  Before starting any car or outdoor equipment, bang loudly on the outside of the machine to chase off any hiding animals.

Pet safety is a priority, and winter can be especially dangerous! If you have any concerns or questions about what is best for your pet during the winter, please make an appointment with your general practice veterinarian.

Written by: Megan Ames & edited by Kristin Garlick, CVPM