It’s that time of year again and although you may be all ready to face this year’s winter weather, follow these tips to make sure your pet is safe and happy this winter too.
Most people think that pets can stay out in the cold much longer than us humans, but for the majority of breeds this is not true. Only a small amount of dogs, such as the long-haired breed like huskies and malamutes have undercoats designed for the cold temperatures. The rest of dogs and cats are just as cold outdoors as we are. If you think you are ready to go inside, your pet is probably ready too! While coats are a great way to make sure your dog/cat is warm enough outside, it is important to note that most animals lose body heat through their ears, the pads of their feet and through their breath, so jackets are not enough to make sure your pet doesn’t get hypothermia or frostbite.
Certain ages and health conditions make pets unable to control their body temperature, making them especially vulnerable in the cold outside. Illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and hormonal illnesses (ex. Hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease) are other causes for animals to get too cold outside. Puppies and kittens lack the insulation to handle any cold so their time outside should be kept to only short periods. Old animals often also have a lack of insulation left as well as thinned hair cold and arthritis. Arthritis in pets, just like people, is aggravated by cold temperatures. Also, as their older animals are not as mobile as they once were, they can easily slip and injure themselves on ice and snow.
Salt is very irritating to pets’ paws. You may notice your dog or cat lick their paws excessively after being outside. To prevent salt from becoming a problem, make sure to wipe your pet’s paws when they are coming in from outside. In addition to salt, animals will often get a buildup of snow or ice in between their paws. This can be avoided by making sure the fur in between their pads is trimmed routinely.
Other than the cold, owners should also be sure to have their pets on a leash around all waterways to prevent them from falling through the ice. It also doesn’t hurt to give a small honk or knock the hood of your car before you start it to make sure a cat isn’t taking advantage of the warmth under the car.
Winter can be a great time to have some fun outside with your pet. Making sure they are as safe and warm as you will make sure that you both have a great season.
Written by: Coxwell Animal Clinic