Cold Weather Safety Reminders to Pet Owners
As temperatures drop in winter, pet owners should remember the following guidelines:
- Keep your cats inside. Outdoor cats can freeze, become lost or stolen, injured or killed.
- During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes choose to sleep under the hoods of cars where it is warmer. Before starting your car you should bang loudly on the hood and wait a few seconds to give the cat a chance to escape.
- Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. Dogs frequently lose their scent in snow and ice and can easily become lost. More dogs are lost in the winter than any other season, so make sure they always wear I.D. tags.
- Ice melt products may contain ingredients that can be very irritating to the skin and gastrointestinal tract and could also potentially result in more severe effects, including depression, weakness, disorientation, low blood pressure, cardiac problems, seizures, coma, and death depending on the type of ice melt and circumstances of exposure. Keep these products out of reach of your pet and thoroughly wipe off your dog's legs, paws, and stomach when they come in out of the sleet, snow, or ice to minimize the potential for skin irritation and avoid ingestion of the chemicals.
- Antifreeze, even in very tiny doses, is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Unfortunately, because of its sweet taste, animals are attracted to it. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle. To prevent accidental poisoning, more and more people are using animal-friendly products that contain propylene glycol rather than traditional products containing ethylene glycol. Call your veterinarian or The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-4ANI-HELP) if you suspect your animal has been poisoned.
- If you have a shorthaired breed, consider getting a warm coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck for your dog. Look for one that covers the dog from the base of the neck. This may seem like a luxury, but it is a necessity for many.
- Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during the cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold. Your companion animal could freeze to death.
- If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness, or breed type, take them outdoors only long enough to relieve themselves.
- Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter.
- If your dog spends a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities, increase its supply of food, particularly protein, to keep its fur thick and healthy.
- Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep far away from drafts and off the floor. You should consider a dog or cat bed or basket with a warm blanket or pillow in it.