Here are some easy tips to make sure your companion animals stay safe and healthy in the cold weather.
- Bring animals inside. This is especially true for kittens, puppies, elderly dogs and shorthaired dogs. These animals are very susceptible to the cold weather.
- Provide dogs with proper outdoor shelter. Make sure there is a weatherproof doghouse available. Doghouses made from wood or plastic hold the warmth better than the ones made of metal. Straw or cedar chip bedding is good because blankets can hold moisture.
- Dogs and cats should not roam freely outdoors. More dogs are lost during winter than at any other time of the year, another good reason to make sure they have ID and a microchip. Cats often climb under the hoods of cars onto the engine to keep warm. A cat can be badly injured when you start your car. Bang loudly on the hood of your car before starting the engine. It gives a hidden cat the chance to get out.
- Antifreeze kills dogs and cats. Clean up any spills from your vehicle and use antifreeze that contains propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol. Animals are attracted to the sweet taste, and even small amounts are deadly.
- Feed your dog extra protein if he is engaged in outdoor activities because he is burning more calories.
- Thoroughly clean your dog’s or cat’s legs and stomach when he comes in from outside. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other chemicals while grooming. His paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.
- Make sure there is a source of water for outdoor animals and wildlife. Break ice on the water bowl at least twice a day. Watch for stray animals. Bring them inside until you find their guardian or take them to a warm animal shelter. If they are too wild to approach, provide food and water for them. Call the humane society for help in humanely trapping them.
- Snow globes or water globes. A reader in Utah brought this tip to our attention, which she learned through a horrible experience. The decorative globes we shake to create snow inside are not filled with water, as most people think. They contain ethylene glycol, antifreeze, in the solution to keep them from freezing during shipping. If a snow globe breaks, make sure ALL of the “water” is thoroughly cleaned up so that your dog does not lick it and get antifreeze poisoning.
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