Words To The Wise On Winter Weather: Protecting Pets

Words To The Wise On Winter Weather: Protecting Pets
Photo by hairofthedogwalkers
If it keeps them healthy, warm, and it’s this cute, why not buy some winter gear?! Photo by hairofthedogwalkers.

Even though #Snowmageddon2015 didn’t live up to its hype, it seems like winter just decided to blow in and snow has been no stranger to the Slope’s streets and stoops! With a couple months of chilly times left ahead of us, we want to make sure pets are safe and comfortable for the cold conditions to come.

Grooming and Gear

Animals obviously have a natural coat and that fur keeps animals warm. On that note, it’s best not to shave your pets during the winter. We know the shedding may get a little ridiculous, but, in the grand scheme of things, a little extra vacuuming is better than risking your pet’s health.

However, trimming and maintaining your dog’s hair might be necessary so that their fur doesn’t get wet and matted from snow and ice when they go for a walk. Matted fur is the equivalent of a person wearing a coat with holes in it — basically pretty useless. To keep your dog’s fur from matting, keep it neat. Trimming, using a metal toothcomb, and bathing and brushing more frequently can ensure that your cutie’s natural coat is doing what it’s meant to.

Also, pay attention to how your dog reacts on winter walks. Like humans, pets’ cold tolerance can vary. Small and shorthaired dogs will greatly benefit from winter wear, and furball fashion is fun (though cats generally don’t take well to clothes…so use your best dressing discretion…we don’t want you to get hurt in the process!).

Increasing Intake

In addition to winter fur coats and clothes, many people think that a dog’s food portions should increase with colder weather for more fat insulation. (I like to think the same for myself, ha!) However, if your dog isn’t venturing outside for exercise regularly, weight gain is not always advised. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that 54% of dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese. Check with your vet to see if you should add to your pet’s food bowl before you fluff them up too much!

Car Cautions

You’ve probably heard that leaving an animal in the car during summer is a huge no-no. Cars overheat easily and quickly become dangerous for living things. What you might not know is that they tend to do the same in winter! Cars can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold. Leave that frozen nonsense to Disney — no frozen Fidos please!

Pet owners with cars also need to keep in mind that antifreeze can be deadly to animals. It’s thick, sweet, some pets love it, and it doesn’t take a lot to kill an animal.

cat car
Photo by Park Slope Stoop

Make sure you keep antifreeze closed and put away. Check your car and others around it for leaking antifreeze. Better yet, consider buying nontoxic propylene glycol antifreeze over the more common and highly toxic ethylene glycol antifreeze. Symptoms of poisoning include staggering, loss of appetite, vomiting, disorientation and frequent drinking and urinating. If you suspect that your animal has been exposed to antifreeze, seek help from a vet immediately, as time is crucial to your pet’s survival. Ice melting products may also be harmful to your pets’ feet so consider investing in booties.

Many outdoor cats will seek shelter anywhere they can, including under your car! Cats may stay warm in a car’s engine compartment or on top of a tire. Before you start your engine, make some noise! Banging your car’s hood or honking your horn could save a life.

Humidity Helps

Just like a human, dry air in a home can irritate a pet. Pets may be itchier, have dry throats and noses, develop upper respiratory infections, and increase dander. To alleviate some of these problems, consider a humidifier! You may also want to talk to your vet about skin conditioners and fatty acid supplements to keep your pet’s skin as healthy as possible.

Photo by Park Slope Stoop
Photo by Park Slope Stoop

With these tips, we hope you and your pet will have safer, warmer, and more enjoyable last few days of winter! Spring is just around the corner so don’t let any winter woes get you down. Happy February!

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