Monday, December 7, 2009

Pet Safety During Cold Weather

Baby, it's COLD outside! I mean, FRIGID!! Early December got off to a slam-dunk start in central Wyoming during the weekend, with temps below zero and wind-chills even worse! This cold and snow is expected to move eastward, and the west will also get another winter blast yet this week. My woodstove chugs; the wood is even frigid! As I throw more logs into the wood heater and drink hot chocolate and wrap myself in an extra blanket, my mind thinks of all the homeless pets and people throughout the U.S. who must endure (and hopefully survive!) this Arctic blast.

Those of us with pets should be mindful of how the cold affects them and do our very best to keep them safe. If early December is this frigid, the rest of the winter may be one of the worst winters we've experienced in quite sometime.

So, here are some tips to keep your pet safe this winter:
1. Keep pets indoors as much as possible, especially small dogs, dogs with short and/or little amount of fur and cats. They are suseptable to extreme cold, especially the pads of their paws and their ears. Frostbite can set in quickly with below zero temperatures.

2. Of course, dogs need to go out to do their business, but get them back inside quickly. Keep walks short, just enough to stimulate their necessary functions and to get a brisk exercise.

3. After returning from a walk, clean your dog’s paws of the ice, snow and other materials picked up along the way. Snow and ice can be painful on pet paws, and material such as ice melt for sidewalks may be ingested by your pet as s/he cleans itself, which can cause medical problems. Do the paw cleaning for your pet for better safeguards.

4. Speaking of outdoors and dangers, remember that anti-freeze poisons pets, so keep your pet away from the garage and driveway, and those of your neighbors. Watch where you and your pet walk and keep your furry friend away from anti-freeze!

5. Warm car engines attract cats and small wildlife, so be careful when starting your car. Pound on the hood to scare away any potential animal "renters" (perhaps your neighbor's cat who doesn't keep his kitty indoors as he should!). Be mindful not only of your own pets, but those living in your neighborhood.

6. For large, furry dogs that do live outdoors most of the time (like huskies, for example), make sure they have a bit of extra food during this extreme cold weather. The extra nutrition will help keep them warm. Also, be sure they have a warm doghouse with plenty of straw, hay or blankets inside.

7. Despite the snowy conditions, water is still important for an outdoor dog. Use a heated pad or other heated water device to keep your dog's waterbowl from freezing.

Other winter-related pet care tips can be found on the Humane Society of the U.S.'s website:

May we and our pets all be safe this winter season!

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