Keep your pets safe this winter

dog in snow

Don’t be fooled by your dog’s coat or your cat’s fur. Your pets shouldn’t be left outside in freezing temperatures and wet atmosphere this winter.

The University of Minnesota Extension recommends tending to your pets’ basic needs and protecting them from the elements. Caring for your pets during the cold months is vital to their health and development.

Food, water and shelter

Make sure that you’re meeting your pet’s basic needs. Feed your pets enough so that they can generate enough energy to keep warm.

Pay attention to water bowls. If the water is frozen, your pets will look to other water sources, like puddles, that are potentially contaminated. In the same way, clean up any antifreeze or chemical spills.

Bring pets inside. If you absolutely cannot, don’t let your pets sleep on the ground. Create an elevated location and place thick, dry bedding on it. Check this often and change it if it becomes damp.

Hypothermia and frostbite

The University of Illinois Extension – Cook County reminds pet owners to never bathe animals in cold water during freezing temperatures.

Just like in hot weather, don’t leave pets in your car during cold, wet weather. They may suffer or die from hypotension, or low blood pressure.

You might not notice immediately if your pet is suffering from frostbite. If you’re afraid your animal is frostbitten, bring them to a warm place and soak them in a warm bath for 20 minutes. This will melt any ice crystals that are hanging onto paws, ears and tails. Be careful to not touch the frostbitten areas. You don’t want to make the damage any worse. Contact a veterinarian soon so that he or she can examine your pet’s condition.

Other health reminders

Make sure that pets get plenty of exercise indoors during inclement weather. If you take your pets outside, be wary of them falling through ice on ponds, lakes and streams. Also be diligent to clean off dogs’ paws after they have been outside. Salt can be an irritant to pets, especially if they lick their paws before they are cleaned off.

Cats commonly look for warm places to rest while outdoors in the winter, so before you start your car, check under the hood, under the car or honk the horn.

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