Prepping pets for the coming cold

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As we head into the winter months, the cold weather is going to be a bit of a shock and adjustment for a pup who, until now, has only lived in the South. To ensure we all stay safe and healthy during our daily walks and trips out in the snow, ice and bitter winds, here are five things to remember when preparing your fur baby for the cold.

They’re like us

While some breeds are bred for colder climates with their naturally thicker coats and longer hair, no pet should be left outdoors for long periods of time in freezing temperatures. Ever. Dogs and cats, just like humans, have varying tolerances for the cold. It’s important to know your pet’s individual limit. Short-hair and short-legged animals (those whose bellies hit the snow and ice when walking), get colder much quicker. Invest in a sweater or coat for these breeds and avoid putting a wet one back on before going out again, as a wet sweater will actually chill their core faster.

Wipe them down

Salt, sand and other de-icing agents on roads and sidewalks are easily picked up on paws, legs and bellies. These chemicals can be harmful if left on their coats, and especially if your fur baby licks them off. When returning home after a walk, be sure and wipe down, if not wash, these areas to remove the chemicals. Wiping down also removes wet snow and ice particles and helps dry their coat, causing them to warm up faster upon their return home.

Signs of concern

Pets need annual check-ups, too. And just like in humans, colder weather can exacerbate chronic health conditions like arthritis, diabetes, kidney and heart disease. A checkup now is as good a time as any to make sure they’re healthy and can regulate their body temperatures.  They can also be susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia. If you see signs of whining, shivering, anxiety, or weakness and lethargy, immediately get the animal inside. Frostbite can be difficult to detect on an animal, so if you have any worries or concerns, get them checked by a vet.

When they’re outside

Again, many of the precautions we take when heading outdoors also applies to our animals. When walking them, avoid stepping directly on ice. They can slip and fall too, causing injury. And frozen lakes or ponds may not support their weight. Snow and ice also mask recognizable scents that help animals find their way home. Be sure your pet has a well-fitting collar with identification tags and contact information on at all times.

When they’re inside

Offer up a couple sleeping options at night. Most homes have colder and warmer areas, and multiple places to sleep allows them to go where they’re most comfortable. With pets staying indoors more, also take a look around to pet-proof the interior. Use space heaters with caution, as they can be knocked over and be a fire hazard. Keep medications and chemicals out of reach. And always keep fresh water available. Pets need to drink water just as much in cold weather as they do in hot weather. read more

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