Both indoor pets and outdoor pets can be affected by the chill of winter weather, but there are steps pet owners can take to ensure their pets’ health and well-being.
Avoid Space Heaters
Indoor pet owners need to turn off space heaters or purchase one that shuts off automatically when tipped over. Numerous house fires have started from space heaters knocked over by pets.
The Humane Society recommends that outdoor pets be brought in during inclement weather for their safety and protection. Outdoor pets are susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite.
Winter Needs For Outdoor Pets
Pets spending time outdoors during winter need more food and also need to have their outdoor houses insulated against the cold. The opening should face away from the wind and a burlap or plastic flap can be added. Water bowls can freeze, especially overnight, so be sure ice is broken or removed so thirsty pets can have a drink. Plastic or ceramic bowls are recommended because pets’ tongues can stick to frozen metal bowls.
Warming Up Car Engines
Be careful when warming up your car in the mornings. Warm cars attract cats and small wildlife seeking respite from the cold. To avoid drawing any unwelcome guests, bang on your car hood to scare away animals before starting your engine.
Avoid antifreeze pet poisonings by wiping up any spills and keeping it secure and out of reach. Pets, wildlife and small children are attracted by the sweet taste of antifreeze, but it is deadly when ingested.
Pets’ paws can become frostbitten in below zero temperatures. Remove ice and snow from pets’ paws immediately. Chemicals and salts used to melt ice on roads and sidewalks can also be toxic to pets. Always rinse dogs’ paws after walks in areas where these substances might be used.
Fur May Not Be Enough
Fur, while it may look warm, may not be enough to keep pets from getting chilly, especially if they have short hair or their fur becomes wet. Cats usually will not tolerate wearing coats or sweaters, but dogs can fare well in winter attire. Doggy boots, jackets and sweaters should fit well, but not be too tight that circulation could be cut off. Puppies and kittens should never be left outdoors. Younger, older and sick pets must be kept indoors.
Symptoms of pet hypothermia include violent shivering, followed by listlessness, weak pulse, lethargy, muscle stiffness, problems breathing, lack of appetite, rectal temperature below 98 degrees, coma and cardiac arrest.
Treatment for hypothermia includes bringing your pet indoors to a warm room, wrapping it in blankets, giving pet four teaspoons of honey or sugar dissolved in warm water to drink or rubbing 1-2 teaspoons of corn syrup on its gums to provide an immediate boost of energy.
Do not use hair dryers, heating pads or electric blankets to warm pets because this could burn your pet or cause surface blood vessels to dilate, compromising circulation to vital organs.
Instead, use hot water bottles wrapped in towels and place against the animals abdomen, armpits and chest. Then, call your veterinarian immediately.
By taking the proper precautions, you can safeguard your pets against inclement weather.