The cold, snowy, winter season will bring plenty of excitement to your pet, especially if snow is a new experience...  however; cold weather comes with hazards and could be harmful to your pet if you aren’t careful.  Prepare sooner than later and sustain pet health and safety during the winter months.

Tips for feline friends:

First of all, consider keeping your cat inside.  Some people consider their felines “outdoor cats” but if you want to keep your cat alive and healthy, it is best to leave her indoors.  If the temperature gets cold enough, cats can become injured or even freeze to death.  Other possible negative consequences of letting your cat stay outside include increased exposure to fatal diseases such as rabies.  If your cat is very experienced with living outdoors, then she most likely knows how to survive, however if you choose to let her stay outside, make sure that you bang loudly on the hood of your car before you start it.  This may sound silly, but the hood of a car is a warm place to hang out.

Tips for canine friends:

Most dogs love the snow, it is a change in environment and the opportunity for play is endless.  However, no matter how much fun your dog is having, don’t let him off his leash during a strong snow storm or when on the ice.  Snow has a strange effect on a dog’s sense of smell, especially when there is abundance of it.  Dogs depend on their sense of smell in many situations, and without it they may become panicked, run away and ultimately become lost.  Keep your dog near you at all times, especially during a snow storm, and if your dog just needs to have a place to run around, you might want to invest in a fenced backyard!

Even though dogs have their own coats, they can still get cold, especially short-haired breeds.  To accommodate for this, you may want to consider purchasing a dog sweater.  This does not mean you are spoiling your dog —it means you are protecting him from the cold weather and thinking about pet health, just like you think about your own health!  Some dogs are especially sensitive to cold weather due to age, illness or breed type.  You will be able to determine this depending on how they act when you let them go outside.  If this applies to your dog, supervise him while outdoors and bring him right back inside after he goes to the bathroom.  Puppies also have a tendency to be sensitive to the cold and may be harder to potty-train during the winter months.  It is possible to paper train your puppy inside though, so don’t be discouraged. 

Dogs need protein to keep their fur thick and healthy, so if your dog engages in a lot of physical activity, such as working dogs do, makes sure he has a healthy diet that includes the right amount of protein.  
Cold weather chemicals that can be harmful:

A number of different chemicals are used specifically during the winter seasons, such as antifreeze and salt.  Antifreeze is extremely dangerous for pets, so make sure that it is out of reach at all times.  If your dog walks over salt, check him afterwards and wipe off or remove any salt that has been encrusted in the paws.  Paws may start bleeding due to the salt and this can cause great discomfort.  Remember, if your dog ingests any chemical it is important to bring it to the veterinarian right away. If pet helath is important to you, you must have something on hand for situations such as the ingesting of any toxic substance. There is a product called Nutri-Lyze that contains an extremely powerful decontaminating agent which is designed to absorb toxins in an animal’s stomach giving you time to make it to the vet. Nutri-Lyze is also safe to use for suspected cases of poisoning with no ill effects to the dog. This is something that should reside in your pet first aid kit.

About the car:

This tip might seem obvious, but never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather.  It does happen sometimes, believe it or not.  Cars hold in the cold and your pet could freeze to death.  There are plenty of ways to avoid this.

The winter months bring with them the need to consider added safety and health precautions, take the time to prepare and provide for your pet's health when the weather turns cold.


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