If you have outdoor pets, winter weather means they will need to come inside! Cold can be deadly to an outdoor animal, particularly when precipitation and moisture are involved. Hypothermia and frostbite can take place in a shockingly short amount of time. In most cases it’s just easiest to bring the critters indoors!
If your pet is outdoors for any portion of the winter, it is vitally important to provide shelter, a source of warmth, and fresh, unfrozen food and water. Without these a pet is in danger of injury and loss of life. Not providing these resources for an animal is considered abuse and against the law!
During the winter months many indoor animals experience much lower levels of activity than normal. While they are hibernating and sleeping away the winter, make sure not to overfeed your pet and cause weight gain. Cater your animal’s food intake to its activity level. While some animals need less food in the winter, others that are regularly outside doing work will need more calories due to the cold.
Just like humans have body parts that are more prone to damage from the cold, so do our pets. Take care to make sure paws, tips of tails, ears, and noses are not getting too cold. These areas are sensitive to frostbite. Take animals inside or to a warm area immediately if you feel these areas are being exposed to harsh temperatures.
Antifreeze is a common leak from car engines during the winter months. It is also a common spill that can be found in driveways or garages. This liquid is a major danger because it has a sweet taste to pets but is very poisonous. Just a small amount can be fatal, so make sure to be on the lookout for spills or leaks and clean them up immediately. If you think your pet may have ingested antifreeze, take it to the vet right away!
Salt and other forms of ice melt pose another risk to the paws of your pets. Some of these salts and mixtures that include calcium or sodium chloride can be harsh and corrosive to paw pads and toes. It’s important to purchase pet safe ice melt to use in areas around your home where your pets walk or where others may walk their pets down your sidewalk. If you take your dog on long walks during the winter where you may be in areas with non-pet-friendly ice melt, it is a smart idea to use booties or other covers over their feet. They won’t just protect their feet, they will also help to keep them warm!
It’s common for stray or lost cats to look for warmth underneath a car’s hood during the cold winter. While you may think it would be difficult for a cat to get into an engine bay, it’s not! Starting an engine can be a hazard to a furry creature inside and could injure or kill them if they get caught in the mechanical pulleys or fans. If you are worried that a stray cat could be in your area, give a few good taps on your hood to scare off any stowaways before getting into your car to start it.