Brrr. Winter is here, and along with pulling together our layers of clothes and winter proofing home and auto we can’t forget our pets!
Arthritis is a problem for pets, too. If Fido appears to be feeling stiff in the morning, shows more than normal caution climbing steps or getting in and out of the car …call your veterinarian. There are many helpful treatment options to give comfort to your best pal.
Warm Engines are a feline favorite, so tap the hood and give a holler before you start your vehicle in case some frosty kitty took shelter from the storm in your car!
Antifreeze…even just a few licks can cause kidney failure, severe neurological symptoms, and usually death. This applies to the cat who just stepped in some and ingested it during grooming his paws OR the dog who just lapped it up. Prevent pets from having any access to antifreeze by checking under your vehicles for leaks and storing antifreeze containers in a safe place.
Coats aren’t just for fashion. Like us, many dogs are more comfortable outside when wearing an extra layer. In particular, smaller dogs have difficulty maintaining a normal body temperature when exposed to freezing conditions. Malamutes, Huskies, Samoyeds and the like probably don’t need a doggie jacket…provided you keep their natural coat properly groomed and unmated so it can provided the needed insulation!
Water. Regardless of season, all animals require round-the-clock access to fresh water. If you expect your pet to be reliant on an outdoor water bowl, you need to find a way to prevent the water from freezing. Water bowl heaters work well. Additionally moving water is more resistant to freezing- consider creating a little “drinking fountain” for your pets.
Exercise. It is a requirement for your pet’s well-being…both physically and psychologically. Get out in the cold and have some fun and afterwards relax in front of the fireplace. TOO cold outside? How about an indoor doggie day care session, or some Kong toys or maybe interactive dog toys to keep them busy?
Ponds. We all enjoy some off leash fun time with our dogs, but be careful around lakes and even backyard ponds…thin ice is a deadly threat. Keep a watchful eye on them!
Salt, ice melt, snow and ice all get stuck to that fuzzy hair between your dog’s toes and can create irritation and sores. Inspect and rinse your dog’s paws as often as needed.
Bring ‘em inside. I personally can’t imagine my dogs or any pets every having to live away from the family, but if your situation absolutely prevents this, and there are no other viable alternatives, then you should provide your pet with an enclosed shelter that is warmed by a heating device and contains plenty of clean, dry bedding. And isolating these social creatures away from you makes it mentally debilitating for them. Also, know and remember that your pet needs just as much attention from you in frigid cold temperatures as during the warmer seasons. Be humane.
Food. Winter in Wisconsin is almost synonymous with overindulgence. Maybe it’s the holiday spirit that starts it all, but please don’t include your pets in this unhealthy habit. Besides getting fat, eating rich, fatty foods predisposes your pets to gastrointestinal issues and pancreatitis…either of which could result in a trip to the emergency vet for a few nights of expensive (an probably scary) hospitalization. Oh, and carpet cleaning is costly, too.
Finally, holiday decorations are going to be tempting. Try to look at your home from a pet’s vantage point. What would look as tempting to them as trip to the toy area of your favorite pet store? Tinsel, ornaments, snow globes, trees, wrapping paper and ribbons, candles, candy…the list is endless. More guests than usual and lots of doors opening and closing…kids screaming and laughing…
Be sure to provide a people free safe zone for your pets to rest. Have low fat special safe pet treats on hand. Check your pet’s collar and id tags. Make sure they are securely fastened to a well-fitting collar. Be sure the clasp on the collar works. Check to be sure your microchip information and tag information is current and correct. Grab your phone and program in the number for the nearest emergency vet, your own regular vet, poison control, the local humane society and police non-emergency dispatch number.
Here’s to a winter with only peace, happiness and good cheer and ZERO pet emergencies at your house!