Winter wellness – be sure your pets are up to date with their annual exams. A healthy pet will be much better prepared to weather the harshness of winter.
Keep pets warm. Do not leave them out in severe cold if unsupervised. Know their limits. Some pets will be happier outdoors than others for longer periods of time. Use coats and sweaters to help protect them from the cold. Keep pets indoors as much as possible.
Avoid shaving pets down to bare skin during cold winter weather. Jackets and sweaters will be helpful if shaving becomes necessary.
Adjust your pets’ feed appropriately. Some pets may require additional calories to burn if they spend much time outside in the cold, however, most of our house pets will actually require a reduction in calories due to staying inside and and getting less activity.
Keep your pets exercised as much as possible indoors. Play games and teach tricks to help keep them mentally and physically active.
Keep your home humidified to guard against dry, itchy skin and static electricity that might irritate your pets.
Be sure to use plastic dishes when leaving water available outdoors for your pets. This way they can avoid getting their tongues stuck to a metal container during cold temperatures. Check often to be sure water bowls have not frozen.
Clean up any coolant spills to avoid antifreeze poisoning. Pets may be attracted to the sweet taste of these products, but the liquid is highly toxic. It is possible to switch to pet-friendly coolants to avoid this hazard at your own home, but the danger is still around other locations.
Check under the hood. Cats will sometimes climb up into a wheel well or the engine area of acar trying to find some warmth. Knock on the vehicle or honk the horn to startle or alert the cat before turning the engine on and driving away.
Additional pet-proofing of your home may be necessary when you begin using wood stoves, space heaters or other heat-producing equipment.
Use reflective or lighted collars, harnesses and leashes when walking your pet. Good to do any time of year, but the longer periods of darkness in winter months call for this extra precaution.
Consider your pets when planning for severe weather and power outages. Keep plenty of their food, medications and water on hand, and have a plan for moving them to alternative shelter if necessary.
Avoid icy areas when possible. Slipping and falling on ice can cause bumps and bruises, as well as more major injuries such as muscle sprains and strains and knee injuries. Poorly frozen lakes, ponds and rivers are very dangerous – especially after temperature changes or winter rains that may thin ice layers even further.
Wipe down pets after they come in from outside. If rinsing off, be sure to dry them thoroughly and keep them warm. Pay special attention to their feet, legs and undersides where salt and ice may accumulate – especially after walking on paths or roads that have been heavily salted. Use pet safe ice melts whenever possible. Getting a pet used to wearing booties may also be helpful.
Keep your pets’ nails clipped short and avoid having pets walk through crusty snow that may lead to torn nails or dewclaws.
Take additional care to ensure trustworthiness of enclosures and restraint systems. Shovel pathways inside the perimeter of pens, so pets won’t be able to climb over fences as snow accumulates. Keep gates clear of snow and ice so they will close securely. Check snaps and hooks of tie-outs to keep them free of ice and working properly.
Be sure your pets are microchipped and wearing current ID in case of wandering off or escaping.