Spring is many weeks. More snow is still coming along with cold air. Keeping pets healthy in cold weather takes a bit on work but mostly common sense.
The best place for cats and dogs in cold weather is inside. If it is below freezing outside they should be in a warm environment like your home or a heated barn or shed. Some thicker furred dogs such as Huskies are bred for survival in colder climates but unless you live in Alaska or northern Canada your pooch is probably not used to the cold.
If for some reason your dog is outdoors much of the day, he or she must be protected by a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to hold in his/her body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. Blankets can get wet and freeze, causing the dog to get frostbitten paws. The house should be turned to face away from the wind, and the doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.
Outside animals always need a supply of water. Keeping warm depletes energy. Water in outside bowls freezes quickly in the frosty air. Purchase a water thawing device from a pet store or a trusted online site to keep the water bowl from freezing. Make sure you keep it plugged in to an electrical source. Do not put it in a dog house or pet shelter.
Animals will go outside the shelter to get a drink and there will be no danger of spillage in the shelter which could freeze. Use plastic food and water bowls rather than metal; when the temperature is low, your pet's tongue can stick and freeze to metal.
Warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife, which may crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car's hood to scare them away before starting your engine.
The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet's feet. Wipe all paws with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates his/her mouth. Pet safe deicers are available at pet stores.
Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that may attract animals and children. Wipe up spills and store antifreeze (and all household chemicals) out of reach. Better yet, use antifreeze-coolant made with propylene glycol; if swallowed in small amounts, it will not hurt pets, wildlife, or your family.
When you take your inside pooch out for "bathroom break," stay out with them. If you're cold enough to go inside, it probably is too cold for the pet to stay out much longer as well.
When you bring a pet in, wipe its paws and underside, making certain there are no ice balls clinging between the toes or on the sole of the foot. They can cause frostbite to an animal that is left outside for a significant time in sub-zero temperatures.
Be particularly careful when escorting elderly, arthritic pets outside. They will become stiff and tender quickly and may find it difficult to move about in the snow or ice. Keep them tethered tightly to your side if the route to the yard is icy. A bad slip can cause a ruptured disc, broken leg or other major injury.
Nutrition is a particularly important concern. Outdoor pets require more calories in the winter to generate energy to ward off the cold. As a result, add 10 to 15 percent more to its daily diet to allow it to meet those needs. Another way to meet cold weather calorie requirements is by adding some fats to their regular ration. Be careful though, fats can lead to diarrhea and dehydration if too much is added.
Probably the best prescription for winter's woes is to keep your dog or cat inside with you and your family. The happiest dogs are those who are taken out frequently for walks and exercise, but kept inside the rest of the time.
Dogs and cats are social animals who crave human companionship. Your animal companions deserve to live indoors with you and your family.
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