TIPS FOR COLD WEATHER CARE OF YOUR PET
FORT COLLINS - As we prepare our homes and
our cars for cold days, we should also pay special attention
to our pets. Below are some tips for "winterizing"
Fluffy and Fido. These tips are provided by the veterinarians
at Colorado State University's Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
- Outdoor pets need appropriate shelter to
protect them from frigid temperatures. Housing should be
insulated, elevated, watertight and protected from high
winds. Bedding should be clean and dry. Because pets use
their body heat to keep warm, the shelter should be small
enough to help preserve that body heat.
- Outdoor cats may seek the shelter of a
parked car, getting under the hood to stay warm and dry.
Before starting a car, raise the hood to check for sheltering
cats or bang on the hood loudly.
- Pets that customarily stay indoors should
be kept indoors or allowed out only for very brief periods.
For shorthaired dogs, puppies, older dogs or those with
health problems, a dog sweater or jacket should always be
worn when going out for short walks.
- A good diet is even more important for
outdoor pets during the winter months. Pets need more food
in order to generate enough energy to deal with frigid temperatures,
so feed your pet more frequently.
- Make sure your pet has access to water
during cold weather. Outdoor pets cannot consume enough
snow to prevent dehydration.
- Indoor pets may require less food, since
they tend to be less active and expend less energy.
- Additional supplements are not needed unless
your veterinarian advises otherwise.
- Monitor any weight gain or loss and adjust
food portions accordingly. If there is a considerable increase
or decrease of weight, consult your veterinarian.
- Conduct regular "paw checks" for
outdoor dogs. Clean away snow or ice from between toes and
dry paw pads thoroughly. Moisture, salt and other de-icers
spread on sidewalks can be trapped between toes and cause
sores. Also, many de-icers irritate paw pads and cause them
to bleed. Paw protectors are available at pet stores or
through many pet catalogues.
- Keep your animal dry. Wet coats can be
a health hazard. If your animal gets wet, be sure to dry
him or her thoroughly.
Animals are subject to frostbite the same as humans, especially
the ears, paw pads and tails. Signs are reddened, white
or grayish tissue, evidence of shock and shedding of dead
- A dog or cat who has suffered frostbite
should be taken immediately to a veterinarian. If this is
not possible, quickly warm the affected area by using warm,
NOT HOT, moist towels, which should be changed frequently.
As the affected tissues become flushed or reddened, discontinue
the warming and apply a clean, dry, non-adhering bandage.
- Carefully store antifreeze where pets cannot
reach it. Antifreeze has a sweet taste, which makes it appealing
to pets, but it is highly toxic. If you think your pet has
ingested antifreeze, contact your local poison control center.
- Frequent brushing of indoor pets is even
more important in winter. Low humidity can lead to dry,
itchy skin and increase shedding. Frequent brushing helps
remove dead skin and hair and helps stimulate oil glands.
- Kittens and puppies should never be left
outdoors in cold temperatures. Their small size and low
body weight makes it impossible to generate enough heat
to protect themselves.