Apparently we have embarked upon one of the coldest winters on record. If the early snow storms in Eastern Canada and the U.S. are any indication, the predictions are right on target. Cold weather can pose serious risks to your pet. As we inform our readers of the dangers of heat in summer, we’d also like to educate our readers on how to keep their pets safe and comfortable during the cold in winter.
Please take steps to ensure your animals are appropriately cared for by keeping them indoors. If that isn’t possible, make sure they have insulated housing and are protected from wind and cold.
Cold weather safety tips:
• Thoroughly clean the pads of your dog’s paws after they’ve walked on sidewalks or roads to remove any coarse salt that can cause irritation. For your own sidewalk choose a pet-friendly, non-corrosive de-icing compound readily available through retail outlets. Dog booties are also available and do a terrific job of protecting paw pads.
• Use pet-safe propylene-based antifreeze instead of ethylene glycol antifreeze, which is toxic to pets and wildlife. A mere tablespoon of ethylene glycol antifreeze can kill a cat or small dog.
• “Think and Thump” before starting your car. Cats and wildlife gravitate to warm engines during cold weather. Banging on the hood before getting into your car can avoid a tragic ending for an animal seeking refuge from the cold.
• We strongly urge keeping all animals indoors during cold weather, but if you must keep an animal outside, ensure their shelter is off the ground, provides protection from wind, cold and damp and is properly insulated. Ensure you pet is dry in its shelter. Check drinking water regularly to ensure it has not frozen over.
• Dogs and cats may find the Christmas tree an intriguing new toy. Make sure your tree is secured, place decorations above paw height and use string instead of hooks, which are easily dislodged. Make sure you don’t add chemicals or any other harmful substances to the water in your tree base.
• Avoid using holiday trimmings such as tinsel and candles, which can cause injury for your pets. Tinsel can cause horrific gastro-intestinal damage if ingested.
• Several holiday plants can be poisonous to animals. Keep mistletoe, holly, ornamental pepper and Christmas roses away from your pets.
• Do NOT feed turkey bones to your pets. Poultry bones easily splinter and the fragments can cause intestinal blockages or lacerations leading to death.
• Chocolate and other sweets should not be given to pets. Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical that can be toxic to cats and dogs even in small amounts.
When the temperature drops, take extra care with your pets. Ideally, keep your pets indoors, even large dogs who would ordinarily prefer being outside, where they are warm and safe and we can enjoy their companionship.
Editor’s Note: the image above is from the 2002 film Snowdogs. While the film didn’t do very well, it’s sure tough to resist the idea of those huskies taking the winter off and sipping yummy drinks poolside!