Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe During Winter

It is vital to make sure that the basics for your pets’ survival are weather proofed at any time of year and especially during the cold winter months. Unfortunately, your fur-riendly loved ones are susceptible to health risks at this time of year. 

So, we recommend you consider the following advice from our paw-some vet, Dr. Nicole Kelleher, to keep your pets safe during cold weather:

Your pets need access to clean, liquid water at all times. They shouldn’t be eating snow since it is a great hiding place for garbage, animal waste and salt.

  • Any shelter should be strong enough to withstand winter storms and warm enough for them to sleep comfortably. For your indoor pets, move their beds to a place higher than the floor to avoid the drafts or cold air coming through the home.
  • Access to edible food regularly is very important since pets are at risk of suffering from hypothermia during this time. So, it’s important to leave them extra food to increase their calories and help them sustain body temperature. Moreover, in unpredictable weather with freezing rains and snows, food left out can freeze or become inedible; check your pet’s food supply often or offer fresh food daily.
  • For outdoor pets, it is recommended to utilize a heated water bowl or to change the water frequently. Keep in mind that if the bowl is filled with hot water, it will take more time for the water to freeze.
  • If it is an option, heated sleeping pads or blankets are appreciated by pets. We also recommend that you pack a dog or cat box with straw/sawdust to help your outside companions stay warm.
  • Puppies and kittens will lose body heat faster than older pets due to their larger surface area. So, it is important to make sure that they are not exposed in the elements for any length of time.
  • Bathing pets in the winter is OK as long as warm water is used, and the pet is able to be kept in a temperature-controlled environment until dry. For sanitary reasons, some dogs need to be shaved even in the wintertime, and when this is done, keep blankets or dog clothing items on-hand to keep them warm when venturing outside.
  • Typically, it’s not necessary to clothe cats during the cold as they are very good at finding small spaces to stay warm. Your typical cat is quite fluffy in the winter and able to trap warm air next to their body by puffing out their coat. Having said that, if you have a unique breed of cat that is hairless or does not have an undercoat, you may consider clothing your cat as they will not have the same cold defenses that most cats have.
  • Since exposure to cold weather can cause hypothermia and frostbite, keep the following symptoms in mind:
    • Hypothermia is often marked by a low body temperature, violent shivering, non-responsive attitude or depressed mentation, marked lethargy.
    • Frostbite can be identified by stiff, brittle tissue that has no feeling. The tissue that is still alive next to the frostbitten tissue is often very painful from the cold. It is often cold to the touch and when left alone the skin will turn black, the tissue will shrivel up and the frostbitten portion of skin will fall off. The most common areas of the body on our pets that suffer frostbite are the tips of their ears and tails.

And when in doubt, feel free to call our fur-riendly team members at Carrollton Animal Hospital at (330) 627-4898 or send us an email at hospital@carrolltonanimal.com!

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