The onset of the colder months means making changes to our lives (Snow tires! Winter jackets! Heaters!) as well as the lives of our pets. Here is a list of things to keep in mind when preparing your pet for winter.
Keep an eye on arthritis and cold weather
Visit your veterinarian for a checkup, especially if your animal suffers from arthritis or health issues like diabetes and heart disease. These conditions can worsen with the colder temperatures and can make it harder for them to regulate their body temperature.
Shorten your walks because of the cold temperatures and the risk of slipping or falling on slick roads and sidewalks. Please remember, animals are just as susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia, regardless of their fur coat. Frostbite can be especially dangerous, as it is difficult to recognize. The damage can already done by the time you make it to the vet. Signs of hypothermia are easier to recognize – anxiety, shivering, increased whining, sudden weakness – but are still often overlooked, so pay close attention during the cold months.
Keep an eye on your pet’s paws, as cold weather and ice accumulation can lead to paw pad injuries. Salt and chemicals used to melt snow on the roads also can bother their sensitive paws. Using booties on their feet is helpful, as is a jacket or coat, especially for short-haired animals. In all cases, make sure you carefully wipe down and dry their paws after being outside.
Be mindful of household winter hazards
Always keep pets away from dangerous winter items like antifreeze, which contains ethylene glycol, even a small amount of which can seriously damage the kidneys.
Holidays can be a particularly stressful time – foods that are dangerous for pets, like chocolate abound, as well as holiday decorations like tinsel (choking hazard) and lit candles (fire hazard).
Don’t stop meds
Is your pet is taking prescription medication? Make you have enough on hand to get you through any shipping delays due to inclement weather.
Don’t stop giving flea medication. Fleas may follow animals into the house for the winter and they can remain dormant for weeks and months, only reemerge when weather is warmer!
Prepare winter emergency kits
When preparing a winter emergency kit for your house, don’t forget supplies for your pets, including plenty of water, food, and any necessary medication.
Make sure your pet has a secure collar and/or chip, as they can easily become disoriented in the snow and get lost.
Ignore the temptation to feed your pet more. It’s a mistaken belief that a few extra pounds will keep them warmer. Keep their weight in the healthy range and check with your veterinarian before making any changes to their diet.