Winter is upon us, even in North Texas. You've probably made sure the battery in your vehicle is in good shape, covered your outside faucets, and turned on your pool's freeze guard. Don't stop there! Cold weather dangers need to be addressed for our pets, too. Here are 10 tips for "winterizing" your pet.
1. Keep pets inside as much as possible. Cats, young pups, old pups and short-haired pups are more susceptible to cold weather dangers and should never be left outside unsupervised. If your pup or kitty has to be outside provide:
• a draft free and dry shelter large enough for your dog to stand up, lie down, and turn around but small enough to keep in body heat.
• and add straw for insulation
• a warm bed that does not sit directly on the cold ground
• a doorway covered with burlap or heavy plastic
Does a coat keep you toasty when it is bitterly cold outside? Be your best friend's best friend and provide warmth. No hoods--they are just annoying. No sweaters, please. Your pet's paw will get caught in it when he/she scratches, which will happen because knit sweaters are itchy. And if your pet gets wet outside, change its clothing.
2. Trim your pet's nails regularly. Long nails prohibit steady footing in icy conditions.
3. Snow/ ice melting chemicals and salt are cold weather dangers that can irritate and burn paws. Massaging petroleum jelly into paw pads can provide protection. Wipe off those "puddy" paws when your pet comes back inside, or, purchase some booties to use as protection.
4. Cars are cold weather dangers. Cats love cars! They love the shelter and warmth provided under the hood of vehicles. Before you start your vehicle, bang on the hood.
5. Another cold weather danger is "Frosting"-- a possibility for paws, tails, and ears. Know the signs of frostbite.
6. Eating habits change in the winter. Outside pets eat more because it takes more energy to stay warm.
Provide water and food in plastic bowls. Make sure the water has not frozen.
7. Never shave your pup down to the skin during the winter months.
8. Did you know snow can affect your pet's sense of smell, making it difficult for them to find their way? Microchip your pet so it can be returned to you should it get lost.
9. The worst cold weather danger is antifreeze. It tastes sweet and the smallest amount can be lethal. If your pet begins to convulse or act "drunk", seek medical treatment immediately.
10. Bathe your pet as little as possible during the winter months. Bathing too much can remove essential oils and leave your pet with dry, flaky skin.
If it's too cold for you to be outside, it's too cold for your pet. Keep them safe and warm during the winter months.