Gary the greyhound here! I’m going to talk about keeping your pets safe and warm this winter. With the temperatures dropping, winter is fast approaching! I talked about hazards of the heat this summer, and now I’m going to talk about the hazards of the cold this winter. I don’t really mind the winter, because Dr. Katie takes precautions to keep me safe. Here are some tips for keeping your pets safe and healthy this winter
- Shelter. If your pet cannot (or refuses to) come inside the house, providing a safe and warm shelter is a must. Home Boy (HB) is a feline friend who doesn’t like Ruby (my younger house-mate who loves to bark and chase cats) so HB won’t come in our house. Since HB prefers the outdoors, Dr. Katie and her husband built a shelter for him. It’s made of a plastic box with lots of insulation to keep him warm.
- Water. If your pet lives outdoors be sure to provide fresh water. If the temperature drops below freezing, your pet’s water bowl will freeze as well. There are special heaters made to keep water from freezing that you can order or purchase.
- Lost. Never let your dog off leash if you take him on walks or hikes. Snow can mask scents, and your dog can easily get lost. If you live in an area that receives a lot of snow, snow drifts can also pose a threat to your pets.
- Cars. Below freezing temperatures can mean patches of ice can form on the roads. This means your pet may be more likely to get hit by a car that cannot stop fast enough. Another way an animal could be injured by a car is by getting caught in the hood. Outdoor and feral cats may crawl into the hood of a car for warmth. It’s a good idea to bang on the hood of the car before starting it to try to scare out any cats/animals that may have crawled in. Chico, My Zoo’s clinic cat, was surrendered to the clinic after getting caught in a fan belt when he was a kitten. He was lucky he survived and was given a safe, warm home in the clinic, but he will always have a limp.
- Antifreeze. Antifreeze has a very sweet taste, but it only takes a small amount to hurt your pet. For example, if your cat walks though a puddle of antifreeze and licks his feet, he can get a toxic dose of antifreeze just from licking it off his feet. Be sure to clean up antifreeze appropriately, keep the lid on securely, place the bottle in a safe location, and don’t pour it out in gutters.
- Rodent poisons. Winter is one of the most common times for rodents to sneak into the home. We don’t recommend using toxins in your house if you have pets. The rodent poisons are also poisonous to pets! Your pet could either eat the poison directly or eat the dead rodent.
- Ice melting products. Salts and other salt melting products can be irritating to the skin, mouth, and GI tract. Only use these products where your pet cannot get to them, and wipe off paws and skin if your pet comes into contact with them. Sometimes snow or ice can get packed between the toes so it’s a good idea to wipe your pet’s paws when he comes inside from the cold.