New Mexico's Pet Resource WINTER 2003


by Nancy Marano

Now that cold weather has returned, here are some tips to keep your companion animals safe and happy all winter long.

Bring animals inside. This is especially necessary for puppies and kittens, elderly animals, and shorthaired dogs. These animals are very susceptible to the cold.

Provide dogs with proper outdoor shelter. Make sure there is a weatherproof doghouse available. Doghouses made from wood or plastic hold in the warmth better than ones made of metal. Straw or cedar chip bedding is good because blankets can hold moisture or freeze.

Dogs and cats should not roam freely outdoors. More dogs are lost during winter than any other time of year, another good reason to make sure they have ID tags and/or 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. In cold weather bang the hood of your car loudly before starting the engine. It gives a hidden cat the chance to get out.

Antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to clean up any spills from your vehicle and use antifreeze that contains propylene glycol rather than 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.

Snowglobes or waterglobes. 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 snowglobe breaks, make sure every trace of the "water" is thoroughly cleaned up so that your dog does not lick it and get antifreeze poisoning.

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