Most of us around the Fall season start to get amped up for the Fall and Winter Holidays…Wait, winter? But its only September…then October…then oh my, it’s so-cold-at-40degrees-November, then wham-bam negative digits December. We get our homes ready by removing leaves from gutters, checking our furnaces, making sure leaks around doors and windows are taken care of… but what about our pets? How do we get them ready for winter?
We recommend firstly, keeping all pets indoors as often as possible, as Mother Nature can be tough on our four legged friends. If you have a pet that spends a lot of time outdoors, make sure they have a three or four walled shelter, insulated with straw for bedding and a roof to keep snow/sleet/rain from entering the shelter. Use plastic bowls instead of metal ones to ensure your pet’s tongue doesn’t get stuck on the frozen metal! Check water supply a few times each day to make sure it hasn’t frozen.
Depending on the lifestyle of your pet (indoor vs. outdoors), their diet may need to be adjusted in order to keep him/her at a healthy weight. Consider discussing your pet’s lifestyle with your family veterinarian to keep them healthy throughout the winter season!
Pets that venture outside are subject to frostbite and hypothermia, just like us humans, if not wearing proper insulation. Northern breeds like Huskies and Malamutes have a thick coat to keep them warm during the coldest of nights; however, some dogs, like the Doberman Pinscher, have short, thin coats that do not hold warmth well. Eleanor, a Doberman, shown in these pictures, wears a coat when she goes outside to keep her warm. To keep her paws free from snow and toxic chemicals like antifreeze and deicing salts, Eleanor also wears booties! On a very cold day, snow can be sticky and can develop cold burns on your pets’ feet, exposing the tissues beneath their pads. Not all pets will leave their booties on as well as Eleanor does! If your pet does not tolerate booties, you can wipe paws using a towel after playtime outside to ensure you remove most, if not all of the chemicals and snow from their sensitive paws!
Feral or outdoor cats find warmth under the hoods of parked cars. Why you ask? Once an engine is turned off, it retains heat fairly well. Many cats and other animals find it a nice, warm place to take a nap or to escape harsh winds! Before you start your vehicle, make sure an animal isn’t using your car as a shelter by opening the car hood or slapping it noisily before you start the engine. Ironically, inside the car can be a dangerous and cold place to leave your pet. We know that in the summer, a car reach dangerously high temperatures; likewise, in the winter, a car can act as a refrigerator, causing your pet to be at risk of hypothermia if left in your car without heat.
In case your pet needs immediate assistance, please always have your family veterinary clinic’s phone number, and an emergency clinic’s phone number available at all times.