Winter is here! With all the hustle and bustle, gift buying and rushing about, we spend a lot of time thinking about everyone else on our lists and what we may need for the next gathering. Your pets might not be giving you an itemized list for the holidays, but there are special considerations they need this time of year to keep them safe and healthy.
Rain is a part of winter for most, but if you live where there is snow and ice, you know it can be a complete shift in how you function day to day. Snow is beautiful, but it can take a lot of extra time and effort managing daily life in it.
1. BUNDLE UP
While a whole extra bundled-up wardrobe for the family is a given, many people don’t consider that their pets might actually need cold weather gear too. It’s not for fashion (although, if you’re already doing it, might as well get a cute one, right?) it’s for safety. No matter what the temperature is, windchill can actually threaten a pet’s life, and exposed skin on noses, ears and paw pads are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia during extreme cold snaps. Instagram dog model cliche’s aside, smaller or short-haired dogs often do need a sweater or jacket—even during short walks. Keeping their body heat in, and water off their bodies is important.
2. WINTER POISONS
There are dangers for your pet in some of the ways we combat winter. Antifreeze is useful to us, but a deadly poison to pets and children, even in small amounts. It unfortunately has a sweet taste that may actually attract animals. Wipe up any antifreeze spills immediately and keep it out of reach. Coolants and antifreeze made with propylene glycol are less toxic to pets, wildlife and family. In addition to the dangers of antifreeze, dogs are at particular risk of salt poisoning in winter due to the rock salt used in many areas—often when licking it from their paws after a walk. Store your own de-icing salt in a safe place and wipe your dog’s paws, even after short walks. If your dog directly ingests rock salt, call a veterinarian immediately. Aside from the ingesting risk, rock salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can also just irritate the pads of your pet’s feet. Always wipe all paws with a damp towel after walks just to be safe. And of course, all year round, make sure your pets don’t have access to medication bottles, household chemicals, or potentially toxic foods such as onions, xylitol (a sugar substitute) or chocolate.
3. TOO MUCH WATER?
Here at Quality Water services, we obviously want everyone to have access to healthy water and drink enough of it. But can your pet drink too much? While actual intake levels vary based on your pet’s size, what you want to be aware of is if your dog is suddenly drinking way more than usual. Excessive water drinking is often a sign of an underlying medical problem, or that they have consumed something adverse to their system. If you notice an uptick in your dog’s water consumption, you should consult your vet.
4. ICY PAWS
Walks in the cold can take a toll on your pet’s paws. Check your dog’s paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding. During a walk, sudden lameness may be due to an injury or may be due to ice accumulation between his/her toes. You may be able to reduce the chance of iceball accumulation by clipping the hair between your dog’s toes.
5. SMELL BLIND
Winter is an especially vulnerable time for a pet to accidentally get out and be caught alone in the elements. Many pets who get out of fenced yards become lost in winter because snow and ice can hide recognizable scents that might normally help your pet find his/her way back home. Make sure your pet has a well-fitting collar with up-to-date identification and contact information. A microchip is a more permanent means of identification, but keeping the registration up to date can very clearly be the difference between having a lost pet back home or not.
6. TOO COLD
If your pet is whining, shivering, seems anxious, slows down or stops moving, seems weak, or starts looking for warm places to burrow, get them back inside quickly because they are showing signs of hypothermia. Frostbite is harder to detect, and may not be fully recognized until a few days after the damage is done. If you suspect your pet has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your veterinarian immediately.
7. ICE POPS
Because it takes more energy to stay warm when it’s cold, animals spending more time outdoors tend to eat more during the winter. And having enough fresh, running water alongside the increased food intake is vital for maintaining your pet’s health. Keep an eye on water bowls that are kept outdoors or in a cold