The winter months can pose a number of expected and unexpected health threats to pets, ranging from frigid temperatures to seemingly harmless salt scattered on sidewalks.
• Seconds, please. – Give your pet more food during cold weather than you do during hot months. Dogs, for example, may need up to 25 percent more energy in the winter than they do in the summer, especially those that exercise outdoors.
• Scat cat – Before starting your car on cold days, honk the horn to scare away any cat that may be hiding in the warm engine compartment.
• The big chill – Don’t leave your pet outside for long periods of time. Low body temperature (hypothermia) can quickly result, and can lead to death. If the wind chill index is below 20 degrees, do not take small house pets, older dogs and cats, or short-haired dogs outside. If you must take your pet out in cold weather, dress it in a knit sweater, which will give it an added layer of protection.
• Cold feet – After bringing your pet indoors, check its feet to make sure ice has not formed between its toes. If it has, carefully clean the pet’s feet and pads with warm water and a cloth.
• Water, water, everywhere – If your pet is kept outdoors, be sure it always has a fresh supply of water, and check frequently to be sure the water hasn’t frozen.
Winter can be great for your dog but it can also be tough on them. Think about what will help your dog or cat have a warm winter and if you’re unsure what is best for your pet, talk to your vet.