With the colder months approaching here in Northern Virginia, we’d like to share some tips for keeping your pet comfortable and safe.
If your dog is a short-haired breed or getting on in years, keep her toasty in cold weather with a warm coat or sweater. Make sure it covers from her neck to the base of her tail, as well as her chest. We recommend leaving the hair in a longer style in the winter.
Puppies in particular are more sensitive to cold than older dogs, so you may want to papertrain your puppy inside. And if you have an ill or elderly dog, or a breed that cannot tolerate low temperatures, take her outdoors only long enough to relieve herself. If your pet enjoys increased outdoor activities, she’ll need more nutritional fuel, so you may need to increase her food intake.
One of the problems when the temperature drops is a tendency for outdoor cats to sleep under the hoods of cars. It may be warmer, but a car’s fan belt can kill or injure them when the motor is started. If there are outdoor cats in your neighborhood, bang loudly on the hood of your car and wait a few seconds before starting the engine. If you own a cat, it is better to keep him inside on cold days.
And when your dog comes in out of inclement weather, thoroughly wipe her legs and stomach and always check her pawpads. Encrusted snow and ice may cause them to bleed. You’ll also want to wipe off any salt and other chemicals used to melt ice. These can hurt your dog if she ingests them while licking her paws.
And antifreeze, while essential to a car’s cooling system, may be very dangerous to your pets if they are exposed to it. Be sure to clean up any spills from your vehicle immediately, and consider switching to a propylene glycol-based anti-freeze like Prestone Low Tox, which provides an added margin of safety for pets and wildlife. If you suspect poisoning, call your veterinarian. You can also contact The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour emergency hotline at (888) 426-4435. There is a fee associated with using this service.
Reprinted from ASPCA.org