Friday, December 5, 2014

COLD WEATHER PET TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS


Just as cold, wet weather can be difficult for us, it can also pose serious health issues to pets.  Some pets are more apt at staying outside, but it does not mean that they are immune to problems resultant from frigid temperatures.  Puppies, kittens, and the animal elderly, like their human counterparts, are definitely more susceptible to illness and injury in chilly environments.  Therefore, the best way to protect them during the winter months is simply to bring them inside. 

Any time the temperature drops, pets need protection.  If you cannot keep your pet inside, consider providing an insulated enclosure that will keep them safe.  Placing the shelter in a protected area, like a garage or on a covered porch, will assist in keeping the animal warmer.  In addition, be sure to raise it several inches off the ground to keep the cold from leeching up through the bottom.  Providing a flap over the entrance will also assist in keeping out cold gusts.  Line the bottom of the housing with old sleeping bags, heavy blankets, or a thick padding of straw.  No matter what you use, be sure to check bedding frequently since blankets, etc. can get wet and freeze, thus defeating their purpose of providing additional warmth.

Also be sure to match calories to temperature and activity.  If your dog spends a lot of time outside, he/she may need to have its food supply increased, especially protein portions.  Conversely, if your dog is indoors most of the time with decreased activity, then fewer calories are required.  When in doubt, always be sure to ask your vet about the pet’s diet.  Fresh water is crucial at any time, therefore should always be readily available.  Check the water often, ensuring that it does not freeze.  Since pets cannot get enough water from licking ice or snow, a frozen water bowl can lead to dehydration quickly.

Keeping your pet well groomed during the winter months will aid in keeping him/her warmer.  Matted hair does not insulate properly and puts the animal at risk.  In addition, never shave a dog in winter.  The longer coat will provide necessary extra warmth.  Short-haired animals will benefit from a warm covering when going outside.  Be sure to provide one that is not just cute.  Look for adequate padding and a good fit.  However, do not put clothes on your pet and send him/her outside unsupervised.  Some dogs wear clothes happily, others will try to get out of them and risk getting them caught in a way that can cause harm.

Keep an eye on your pet’s foot-pads.  If the dog seems to be walking strangely, chances are the feet are probably too cold or ice may be forming between the pads.  If you put protective booties on the dog be sure they fit snuggly.  If they are too constricted you risk compromising circulation, thus increasing chances of frostbite.  In addition, always be sure to clean off legs, feet, and stomach when your pet comes in out of sleet or snow.  If the pet cleans itself and ingests salt or antifreeze, it can become fatally ill.  Because antifreeze in any amount is lethal to dogs and cats, be sure to immediately clean up spills and buy it made with propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol.

Most people know pets left alone in a car during the heat of summer can die.  The same holds true during the cold of winter.  Cars can get as cold as any refrigerator’s freezer, and pets can easily perish.  Remember also, cats often take refuge under car hoods to be near warm engines in cold weather.  Therefore, before starting your car, bang loudly on the hood or honk the horn, to give any cat a chance to escape and avoid serious injury.

If your pet suffers from cold exposure and exhibits such symptoms as violent shivering, listlessness, muscle stiffness, difficulty breathing, and lack of appetite, wrap him/her in a blanket and go to your veterinarian as soon as possible.  Do not immerse them in warm water, and please avoid heating pads, which can cause burns.

Our pets can experience mild distress to serious complications when the cold weather arrives  A few safeguards can minimize risk.





0 comments:

Post a Comment