Although our weather has been freakishly warm on the east coast (aside from the blizzard, Jonas from last week), we know that the cold weather will hit us again. After all, it’s only the beginning of February. With the cold weather looming on my mind, I’ve always been concerned about our pets and the amount of time they spend outside.
So, let’s not forget to prepare our four-legged friends for the cold winter weather. My veterinarian, Dr. Reginald Royster is a ROCK STAR vet. Not only is he kind and caring to all his patients, but he insists on educating all the owners, too. He has a bulletin board in his office with informative material ranging from diet, disease, weather conditions, making friends, etc. that is changed monthly. I thought I would help him get the word out for winter weather. Thanks Dr. Royster for all you do to help keep our four-legged babies happy and healthy.
My vet says it can be tricky to know whether a pet is cold, so keep a close eye on her when she plays outside. Shivering and decreased activity are both signs of freezing. Redness on the extremities, such as ears, means she’s been outside too long.
According to Dr. Royster, even a natural fur coat can’t fully ward off the chill. He tells all adults who come into his office to always provide a warm, dry place for your pet to sleep that’s off the ground and away from drafts. A pet bed with an extra blanket will do the trick. Outside, animals with short hair should wear a coat when temperatures drop. It should cover your pet from the neck to the base of the tail.
PROTECT THE PAWS
Low humidity, salted roads, and freezing temperatures can cause dry, cracked paws. Dr. Royster suggests rubbing a small amount of petroleum jelly on your pet’s paw pads to prevent additional irritation. “It’s like putting lotion on your hands,” he says. Boots are another great option, as long as they fit snugly. You can even find disposable rubber or latex ones for animals that balk at heavier shoes.
Antifreeze is poisonous to pets. Dr. Royster recommends this easy cleanup trick: Pour cat litter over any spills to soak up the liquid, then sweep up and dispose of it. Ice-melting products can also irritate animals’ skin, or upset their stomach if ingested. Choose a pet-safe variety for outdoor walkways, and always wipe down your pet’s paws and belly after walks to remove any chemicals or ice on his fur.
Did you know pets are more likely to get lost in the winter, since excess snow masks smells that help them determine their surroundings? Yup. Dr. Royster recommends outfitting your dog or cat with an ID tag, consider having him microchipped. The small, permanent implant helps shelters identify a lost animal and its owners. Unlike collars, a chip can never fall off or go missing. The quick procedure generally costs around $50 at the vet’s office.
Make sure you and Fido are prepared for the remaining cold winter months!