When most of us get cold, it is easy to warm-up with extra layers. However, it's not possible for our pets to do the same.
Here is some experts' advice to make sure your pets stay safe and warm:
- Keep indoor cats inside. Cats can get lost in wintery weather and become injured — or worse. If there are cats outdoors, provide them with a warm place to sleep and access to unfrozen water and food. Dogs that are let off-leash during the winter, especially during a snowstorm, have a higher chance of becoming lost. Make sure your dog is wearing ID tags and has been microchipped to increase the chances of being reunited with you if they become lost.
- Check twice before starting your car. Outdoor cats often climb under the hoods of cars to keep warm. When the motor starts, the cat may be injured or killed by the fan belt. Knock or bang loudly on the hood of your car before starting it to give cats a chance to escape.
- Never leave your cat or dog in a vehicle in cold weather. The vehicle acts as a refrigerator, keeping the cold in and causing the animal to freeze.
- Towel dry your dog’s paws, legs and stomach when they come in, out of winter weather. Chemical agents used to melt ice can be dangerous for your dog to ingest while licking their paws. Snow and encrusted ice may also cause your dog’s paw pads to bleed.
- Never shave your dog in the winter. Dogs need their coat to provide warmth. When you give your dog a bath in the winter, be sure they are thoroughly dry before letting them outside. For dogs with shorter coats, consider getting a coat or sweater that covers their body from the base of the tail to the belly. Keep pets’ fur mat free. Matted fur does not allow your pet’s coat to keep the animal warm.
- Know how much cold your pet can tolerate. Puppies, small and older dogs have a lower tolerance for cold temperatures. Let them outside only to relieve themselves, or train them to use paper pads indoors.
- If your dog is built for colder weather and enjoys playing in the cold, increase the amount of food they are given, especially extra protein, to keep them and their fur healthy and in good shape.
- Make sure your pet has a warm place to sleep — off the floor and away from drafts. A warm blanket or pet bed will be much appreciated by your companion! If you have an outside dog, bring them inside during these cold snaps. If your dog has to stay outside, make sure they have adequate shelter and fresh unfrozen water.
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