Looking After Your Pet's Health During the Winter
The time has changed and the leaves have fallen off the trees. It is the time of year to get ready for winter. In a large part of the country snow will be on ground soon and the temperatures will get below freezing. Your dog and cat know it is winter. They get their winter coat and react to the shorter daylight the same as us. Some dog owners leave their pet out for extended periods of time thinking that animals are adapted to living outdoors. That is not the case with domesticated pets. They are used to living indoors just as much as we are.
A good idea for winter care for your pet would be to take them to your veternarian before winter really sets in. Make sure your pet is in good health. Older dogs, like older humans, tend to get sick more easily in the winter. If your pet have arthritis, diabetes or heart problems make sure he gets a good check up. If it is cold outdoors make sure you watch your dog and cat carefully. A good idea would be to stay outdoors with them. When you get cold then chances are your dog is cold too. That would be a good sign to take him back inside.
Watch for hazards in the winter. If you live near ponds or lakes keep your dog away from the ice. You never know what the thickness of the ice is. If your dog would happen to fall in he would have a hard time getting out. I would say if you live near water stay outdoors with him. If you live near woods or a forest the snow can cover up hazards the dog can't see, like sticks or rocks or trash.
Make sure you keep antifreeze out of sight. Dogs like the smell and will drink it if they find some. Antifreeze is extremely poisonous and will kill your dog. If you need to change your antifreeze make sure your clean up any spills. Dogs that don't have access to clean unfrozen water will drink whatever they can find outdoors. This includes gutter water which can contain antifreeze, oil, or other household hazardous waste.
If your dog needs to be kept outdoors for any length of time make sure they have a nice warm shelter. A nice sturdy doghouse would be a good idea. Make sure they have a nice warm dog bed and fresh unfrozen water. That is very important. Your dog can get dehydrated in the winter. Please check his water bowl before going off to work or shopping. If you put a wrapped hot water bottle in their shelter it will keep it cozy.
Rock salt and deicer can be very hard on your dog's pads. When they coming in from outdoors make sure that you wipe off their pads with a warm cloth. This is important as they may try and lick their paws and they may become very ill.
Be particularly gentle with older or elderly dogs. Their arthritis can get worse in the winter. Stay close with them when they are going down stairs as they may slip and fall. They may be a bit more awkward and uneasy when they are outdoors. In the winter they may need help getting up on their favorite couch or chair. Make sure they have a nice cozy bed. A heated dog bed would be a great idea. You may have trouble getting them out of bed in the morning.
If you have a cat that likes to go outdoors be careful with starting your vehicle as cats like to curl up in warm engines. A good thing to do is bang on the hood of your vehicle so any cats hidden there will jump out. If a cat is on your engine and you start it, the cat will be injured or killed.
A good idea if you can get your dog to let you do this put a warm little sweater on them. Little paws booties will also help keep their little paws warm.
Take good care of your pet this winter and they will be there to keep you company for many winters to come.
By: Cyril Scheer
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