If this is your first full year caring for a pet, then you may be unaware that the needs of your animal are likely to change a little during the winter. This means you may have to alter the care you provide to ensure that your pet remains warm and comfortable during the coldest time of the year.
To help, here is a guide from Nippers Corner Pet Medical Center outlining pet care for the winter season.
Even if your cat or dog has a thick, fluffy coat, keeping warm during the winter can be a challenge, particularly if you live in an area that gets heavy snowfall. There are several ways in which you can help keep your pet feeling toasty.
Don’t let your animal spend prolonged periods outside, as doing so could cause him to develop frostbite or hypothermia. Limit walks, or try and find an exercise you can do together indoors, such as playing hide and seek or running up and down the stairs.
Consider buying puppy toileting pads or litter. Sometimes the weather is too cold and abysmal to let your pet go out to do his business. Puppy pads and litter can be easily disposed of, meaning that your pet can go when he needs to without braving snow, ice, and bitter temperatures.
Trim the hair underneath your pet’s belly, around his legs and his paws. This will stop snow and ice accumulating on his fur, and between the pads on his paws – which can be extremely painful.
If you have a short-haired breed of dog or cat, consider buying pet jumpers or waterproof coats to help keep her dry and warm.
Waterproof pet booties are a great way to protect your pet’s paws from ice and snow, as well as stopping them from getting covered in salt and other snow treatments that are toxic to your animal if ingested.
If you have pets in cages, make sure you lift the cages off of cold flooring and if necessary, to a warmer part of the house. This could include cages for rabbits, hamsters, and tortoises.
Wintertime also brings a new set of hazards that, as a responsible owner, you will want to be aware of so that you can do everything possible to keep your pet safe from harm.
One of the biggest hazards is frozen water. If you live near to a lake, river or pond you should keep your cat inside if possible, and a dog on a leash. Your pet probably will not realize how fragile the ice is, and his weight could easily cause it to break and him to slip into the water. If your pet does get on the ice it can be tempting to go after them. However, it is imperative that you don’t. Dogs are actually more likely to be able to get themselves out of a frozen lake than you are, and as significantly heavier than most animals, humans are much more likely to fracture the ice, putting both you and your pet in a life-threatening situation.
Snow can make a perfect camouflage for white or light-colored pets. Therefore, if you do plan on letting your pet loose in the snow, ensure they are wearing a brightly-colored jacket or collar. Only let them loose if they have a strong memory and remember to keep a close eye on her. Even the most familiar area can be confusing for your pet when it is covered in snow, so there is a much greater risk of her getting lost. You should also consider investing in reflective clothes or collars if you plan to take your dog for a walk in the dark.
Antifreeze is an essential product for vehicle owners during the winter months. However, it is also extremely toxic if ingested by animals, who are lured in by its sweet scent. Therefore, ensure that any spillages are mopped up immediately, and the bottle of antifreeze is put away out of the reach of any animals – whether that is your own pets or wild animals that may venture on to your property.
If you have an open fire in your property, invest in a guard to make sure that your pet doesn’t get too close. You can encourage him to keep his distance by placing his bed or favorite blanket next to the fire but far enough away to be safe.
The winter can be harsh on skin, and your pets are no exception. Unfortunately, animals don’t have the luxury of being able to slather themselves in moisturizer. One of the best ways to help protect your pet’s skin and coat is to cut back on the number of baths you give her. This is because increased bathing can dry her skin out further, causing it to become sore and sometimes even cracked.
You should also ensure that you are feeding your pet an appropriate diet that has plenty of omega-3 oils, high-quality protein and the vitamins and minerals necessary to keep her as healthy as possible during the winter. This will also ensure that her skin and coat are healthy and shiny, and the natural oils in her fur will help lubricate her skin and keep her comfortable.
If you have other questions or want to discuss your individual pet’s needs, call Nippers Corner Pet Medical Center today.