Welcome to Minne-SNOW-ta! It’s almost that time of year again in the Twin Cities. Temperatures dropping, snow piling up, the sound of ice scrapers in the morning, and snowplows all day long.
So what should you do to keep your pet safe this winter? Here are a few tips:
1. On very cold days, do not leave your pet outside while you are at work or away for extended periods of time. Let your pet stay inside! Worried about accidents? Newspaper the floor or have a designated area for the “pet bathroom.” At the end of the day, would you rather clean up wet newspapers or be rushing your pet to the emergency clinic?
2. If you do leave your pet outside for more than ten minutes, make sure they have a warm place in which to stay. If your pet is an “outdoor” dog, a solid, insulated doghouse, as well as access to unfrozen water is required by law. Which brings us to number 3…
3. Monitor your pet’s water dish. Don’t let the water freeze or be contaminated with ice melt or other dangers.
4. Clean off the pads of your pet’s feet! They can pick up rock salt, ice, and chemical ice melts while walking in the winter. Wipe your pet’s pads whenever they come inside to keep him/her from licking any chemicals or from getting chapped or raw. At AERC, we have a product called Musher’s Secret that provides protection for your dog’s feet in extreme conditions. Come in and buy some; you’ll be ready for the worst!
5. Our happy pets don’t know to slow down on the ice and snow. When pets lose their footing on ice or firm packed snow, a hard fall can result in muscle and bone injuries. Help out by keeping your steps clear of snow and ice (use pet-friendly ice melt). And shovel an area of the yard that’s close to the door. This way, your pet doesn’t have to trample through the snow.
6. Use those sweaters, booties, hats, and whatever else you’ve got! Pets lose body heat in their pads, ears, and respiratory tract. Keep your pets warm with winter gear the same way you do!
7. Be especially gentle with elderly and arthritic pets in winter. The cold will stiffen their joints, and can result in a nasty fall. It’s also important for you to help these pets when they are going up stairs or jumping onto furniture.
8. Do you visit the dog park in winter? Don’t let your dog run off leash if there is a frozen pond or lake nearby because, just like humans, dogs can fall through ice.
9. Keep an eye out for signs of frostbite, which include discoloration of exposed areas such as the tips of ears, tip of the tail, paw pads, and toes. Call your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet has symptoms. Hypothermia is another concern; if your pet is lethargic or displays heat-seeking behavior for a prolonged period of time after coming in from the cold, it’s best to contact your veterinarian.
10. Beware of stray animals or wildlife. Many animals will find warm places to stay when it’s cold outside. This includes the doghouse, your garage, your car’s engine, etc… Remember to check these areas, just in case! If you do find stray animals or wildlife, contact the humane society or the local wildlife center.
11. In addition to helping stray animals and wildlife, if you suspect a pet is being neglected or left out in the cold for too long, call the local police or the humane society right away!
We hope you and your pet stay warm this winter!