Winter can be a dangerous time for pets. From plunging temperatures to toxic chemicals, there are extra perils to beware. Let’s face it – when Jack Frost starts nipping at your nose, you can give him a swift kick in the sleigh bells by cranking the heat. Pets don’t have it so easy, so here are a few winter tips to keep pets safe all season long.
1. If it’s too nasty for you to be outside; it’s too nasty for your pet. Domestic pets don’t have inherent mechanisms to protect them from the elements any more than we do. Bring house pets inside and make sure livestock has adequate shelter from cold, wind, rain, ice and snow outside.
2. Beware toxic chemicals. Where there’s ice, there’s antifreeze. Antifreeze is highly poisonous to pets, and the neon green puddles can be tempting for pets to try to drink from when all other water is frozen. Likewise, de-icers such as salt and other chemicals can be harmful to pets who walk on ground that has been “de-iced” and later lick their paws, ingesting the toxins. If your pet has been exposed to de-icers, make sure to rinse his paws in warm water to clean them off.
3. Dehydration can happen in winter, too. If your pet relies on an outside water source, make sure you have a way to keep it from freezing. Pets can’t get sufficient water from eating snow.
4. Protect the feet. Ice loves to cling to hair and fur. Keep your furry-footed friend’s paw hair neatly trimmed, and if your pet has been outside, inspect his paws for ice balls.
5. Be aware of heated “hiding places.” It’s not uncommon for cats and other small animals to burrow next to the still-warm engine of a parked car. Before you start your car, knock on the hood or honk the horn a few times to scare stowaways – you will be saving their life.
6. You are not the only one whose joints can tell the temperature. If you have an older pet, he can be experiencing increased discomfort during cold weather as well. Make sure you handle your pets extra carefully and diligently keep up medications during cold snaps.
7. Prepare your pet’s emergency kit. No matter where you live these days, Mother Nature is a threat. From earthquakes to blizzards, there’s always the chance a weather event could cause you to have to leave your home suddenly. Plan ahead and make sure you have a kit for both you and your pet, packed and ready with necessities. For your pet, this should include food, water, litter, medication, towels, blankets, and maybe a favorite toy. Additionally, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a recent picture of your pet with you in case you get separated. Many times, pets are not allowed with their owners at evacuation shelters so have a plan for this ahead of time too. Research local pet-friendly hotels, or make arrangements to stay with a friend or family member who lives in a safe area.
8. The most important thing you can do for your pet, at any time, is to make sure his identification is up to date. He should be micro-chipped and registered with your current info, and his license and tags should reflect your current phone number. When you move, update this info at the same time you inform the post office.