Eight Tips for Keeping Your Pet Safe in the Winter

Brrrr … it’s cold outside! And, it looks like it’s going to remain cold for the next few days. The following guidelines can help you protect your companion animals when the temperatures are below freezing.

  1. Keep your cat inside. While this may difficult if your cat is used to being outside, it’s probably best, especially during this time of year. Outdoors, felines can freeze. Also, during the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.
  2. Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice. This is especially important during a snowstorm because dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so also make sure yours always wears ID tags.
  3. Thoroughly wipe off your dog’s legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow, or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze, or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws. And his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.
  4. Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter. A longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry her before taking him out for a walk. If you own a short-haired breed, consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly.
  5. Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
  6. Take extra care of puppies in the cold weather. Puppies don’t tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.
  7. Be sure to clean up coolant or antifreeze spills. Coolant and antifreeze are lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center more information.
  8. Provide your pet with warm, cozy place to sleep. Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.

For more than 20 years, Willard Veterinary Clinic has provided dedicated veterinary care for the communities of Quincy, Boston, Dorchester, Milton, Braintree, Weymouth, Canton, Randolph, Hingham, Abington, Hanover, and Rockland. Contact us to see why we’re different!

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