KEEPING OUR PETS HAPPY AND HEALTHY IN WINTER
Winter is definitely here and, even though the air may be cold and the winds gusting, it’s not an excuse to keep our furry friends inside by a warm fire.
Our pets still need to get some fresh air and exercise during the long winter months, but you must be sure that your four legged friend is safe while outside. One of the most common problems during winter is antifreeze. This can be a lethal poison to pets, cats and dogs alike. It has a sweet smell and taste to pets and they will lick and ingest the substance. If you see any spills or leaks of antifreeze, be sure to clean it up quickly and always make sure that there are no open containers around that your pets could get into.
When going out for a walk, be sure that your pet is wearing a coat or sweater to help keep him warm and dry. Some large, long haired pups may not need to wear a sweater but pups with short, fine hair, and those from the toy group, with not a lot of fat on them, definitely need protection. Wearing a coat or sweater will also help to keep your pup cleaner and that will make life easier for you when you get home.
It’s always a good idea to keep a wet wash cloth and a towel at the door to use when you return from a walk. You should wipe your pup’s paws as soon as you come in to remove any salt, snow or other debris they might have picked up on the walk. Be sure you get in between the toes and dry the paws thoroughly.
If you are in a residential area where your pup is walking on salted walkways and sidewalks, you would be wise to invest in a set of good fitting boots for your pup.
Many dogs don’t like to have boots on their paws and, in this case, you may want to try some “Bag Balm” or other similar products to apply to the pads of your pup’s feet before heading out.
When going out for a walk or run with your pup, always be sure that he is wearing a well fitted collar that has his identification tags attached. In the event your pet gets loose during your walk or your collar or leash snap, your pup may have more difficulty finding his way home as snow and ice can cover up familiar smells that would otherwise help your pup find his way back.
Just like the hot days of summer, winter can also be very dangerous for our pets to be left in a car or truck for any length of time. Long periods in a cold vehicle can lead to frostbite or hypothermia.
When the temperatures plummet to extremely low temperatures, be sure that you keep your walks short and limit their time outdoors in the yard. If you see your pup consistently stopping and not wanting to move, he’s probably trying to tell you it’s time to go home. Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s definitely too cold for your pup.
Even when it’s extremely cold outside, your pet still needs to get some form of exercise and mental stimulation to keep him happy. For those days that your time is very limited outside, make sure that you take time to play with your pup, either with some new toys, or playing hide and seek. Something you can do is to have your pup sit and stay in a room while you go and hide a few small treats or toys in other rooms of the house, then give your pup a “release” command and let him go to find the treasures. This will give your pup a form of exercise but, more importantly, will reinforce his basic obedience and stimulate his mind, all of which is a good thing for your pup.
It may be cold outside, but that’s not a reason to stop administering your regular flea and tick medication. Fleas do not hibernate but will move indoors where they will continue to breed. So it’s important that you continue with all flea and tick and heartworm medication during the winter months.
So try to enjoy the cold, snowy days ahead, stay active and keep your pet safe and warm.