Brrr... Winter is upon us. We hopefully have about 2 more months of the cold, well, more like 3 months. We would like to take this opportunity to discuss winter safety for pets and their owners.
Our cats and dogs should be inside during the cold weather, especially the frigid temps below freezing. There is a common misconception that dogs and cats are resistant to the cold because of their fur however, this only helps if they are also acclimated to the cold. Dogs and cats are susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite especially on ear tips and paws. Thick-coated dogs like huskies and mountain dog breeds are more tolerant because of their coats but no pet should be left outside for long periods during freezing temperatures without access to a draft free insulated shelter and unfrozen water.
If you take your dog out for walks consider a sweater or coat to help reduce exposure to the wind or rain. Acclimating your pet to wearing boots can help reduce exposure to the cold and ice melts. Check your dogs paws for any cracks in the pads or snow/ice build up. If there is ice melt out anywhere, wipe down paws and legs to remove any that may have gotten stuck in the fur.
If you can't avoid it and your pets live outdoors, consider bringing them in when it is down right freezing. If not, make sure they have a dry, draft-free and well insulated shelter to help them stay warm. An inexpensive bale of straw helps to provide insulation in a shelter. Also, keep an eye on those water bowls, they will need fresh, not frozen water often. There are several options available for heated dog bowls to keep water unfrozen at all times. Outdoor pets may need more food in the winter months because they require more energy to stay warm. If you pet is overweight, they do not need more calories for the winter. If you bring your pets into the garage to keep them from the elements, make sure you keep bottles of antifreeze or any other potentially harmful chemicals on a top shelf. Also keep sharp objects like tools and chainsaws out of reach. The use of space heaters is not recommended around pets, they can knock them over and possibly start a fire.
Something that most people don't think about is when parking our cars outdoors or while visiting friends and family; your cat, the neighbors cats, and even small wildlife like to nestle near a warm vehicle motor or sit on tires and this can cause problems when we drive off. To avoid injury to any hidden animals, bang on your car's hood to scare them off before getting in and starting your vehicle.
We hope you had a wonderful Holiday season and we look forward to providing your pet's care in 2017. If you have any questions or concerns about your pets, please call our clinic at 417-725-2386.
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