Living in a Winter Wonderland?
Unless you’re one of the lucky ones living in one of the balmier states, you've felt the cold chill of winter arrive. For some of us, cold weather is regarded as a mere nuisance; for others, it’s a fun time filled with snowboarding, skiing and other winter joys; and still others will find this time of bone-chilling weather and huge piles of snow a veritable nightmare to endure.
Whatever your viewpoint on winter, one thing remains the same for all of us with pets: it’s a time when our beloved babies need a little extra care. Luckily, PetMD has compiled a list of tips to protect your pet from the dangers of winter.
1. In or Out?
Does your pet spend most of the time in the backyard? You might want to keep her indoors during the freezing months, especially if you live in bitterly cold areas. No one wants an icicle for a pet -- they’re simply not that cuddly.
2. Bare Naked Truth
If you must keep your pet outdoors, consider this: Would a fur coat alone (even if it is faux mink) keep you warm against the elements? No? Well, your pet’s fur coat isn’t enough protection for your pet during winter, either. Be a pal and provide your dog with a warm, dry, and draft free shelter outside; the shelter should also comply with any state laws that apply.
3. No More Frozen Dinners!
Because it takes more energy to stay warm when it's cold, outdoor animals eat more during the winter. Likewise, fresh, running water is vital for maintaining your pet's health. Keep an eye on the water bowls and make sure they haven’t turned into little skating rinks for fleas (boo, fleas!). While ice pops might be a fun treat, your pet really doesn’t want to have to lick a frozen lump of ice to get his water.
4. Latest Fad Diet?
Indoor animals, meanwhile, have different dietary needs. They conserve energy by sleeping more in the winter. Dogs and cats also exercise much less when they do go outside, so you may need to adjust the amount of food accordingly. After all, no one wants an overweight pet.
5. Frosty the Biting Snowman
We’re not talking about the latest horror movie offering from Hollywood. Frosting is a serious problem during winter, especially for paws, tips of tails, and ears. This makes it even more important in keeping your pet warm, especially if they’re an outdoor pet. Get special booties, coats, and maybe a hat for your pet during her walks, and look for early warning signs of frostbite such as firm, waxy skin and blisters.
6. The Deadly Drink
The worst of all the wintertime chemical spills is antifreeze, which often leaks from a car's radiator. It may taste delicious to your cats or dogs, but it is extremely deadly -- even the smallest sip can be fatal. If your pet starts acting "drunk" or begins to convulse, take him to the vet immediately. Better yet, keep all pets away from the garage and clean up any accidental spillage. You should also not let your dog wander too far during his walks. Who knows what dangers lie in your neighbors' driveways?
7. Salty Solution
Do you live in an area with cold and icy winters? Then you are probably accustomed to salt on the sidewalks and roads. However, the types of salt (typically calcium or sodium chloride) used to melt ice and snow and keep it from refreezing are somewhat harsh on delicate paws -- not to mention they corrode concrete and damage the beautiful vegetation. Protect your pet's paws, and keep him warm during walks, by outfitting him with booties.
8. Joy Ride
Cars are particularly attractive to animals in the winter-time, especially frigid cats that love to climb up under the hood and curl up on the warm motor. This, as you can imagine, has led to many mishaps when motorists start their car … ouch! Avoid such accidents by tapping your car's hood before starting the vehicle. Sure, you may wake Kitty from her deep slumber, but she'll thank you in the long run.
Wintering with your pet is mostly common sense. If you’re cold, your beloved pet will most likely be cold too. So snuggle up, keep your pet warm and safe, and sooner than you can say "Jack Russell," we’ll all be hitting the beaches for some summertime fun.
Image: Hawkins / via Flickr