Keep pets safe from the cold

Dog-in-Snow3_blog With another massive snowstorm moving its way across parts of the U.S., it’s important to take a moment to consider animal safety.

Like humans, cold weather can be extremely dangerous to pets. Here are a few tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) for keeping your furry friends healthy, happy and safe during winter.

  • Keep pets inside. Even furry coats can’t prevent problems such as hypothermia and frostbite. Although some breeds are better suited to cold weather, such as huskies and malamutes, no pets should be left outside in temperatures below freezing, according to the AVMA.
  • If pets are outside, ensure they have a warm shelter that blocks the wind with ample dry bedding. Make sure they also have a good supply of water and check it often to prevent freezing.
  • Pets may often be lighter than their human companions but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t wander on the ice. The AVMA recommends keeping pets away from frozen ponds, etc. because of the risk of falling through.
  • Dogs with short fur or those that don’t handle the cold well should be outfitted with a sweater or coat before venturing outside.
  • When returning indoors, check pets’ paws for ice and snow buildup. Be sure to wipe them down, which will help remove any toxic chemicals they may have picked up along the way, such as antifreeze (otherwise, pets may lick these chemicals off of their paws, causing illness).
  • Annual vet checkups are important to ensure any problems that may be exacerabated by the cold are caught early.
  • Have a cat that has access to your car? Check under the hood of your car before driving as felines sometimes nestle into the warmth of an engine compartment.
  • The best advice is really just knowing your pet and adjusting based on its needs. For example, short-coated dogs, elderly dogs or those with conditions such as arthritis may have a particularly tough time in cold weather. Likewise, know the signs of a problem, such as shivering, whining or weakness. Call a vet if you suspect frostbite or hypothermia.

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