With winter approaching and temperatures dropping it is time to ensure that, as a pet owner, you know how to best care for your furry friend. Through our teaming up with North Shore Animal League America, we are happy to be able to provide pet owners with some helpful tips that apply to caring for your favorite companions during the winter season.
- Become familiar with your pet’s limits when it comes to outside exposure in cold climates.
The appropriate amount of time spent outside when it is cold really varies with different breeds and animals. For example, breeds such as German Shepherds, Huskies and Malamutes, can handle colder temperatures for relatively long periods of time. However, they should not be left outside when not on walks or outdoor breaks. In contrast, breeds such as Chihuahuas, Poodles and Terriers, have shorter thresholds when it comes to cold temperature exposure. Therefore, you should be mindful of time when it comes to being outside in the winter with your pet.
- Rock salt is toxic and can be harmful to paws.
It is very common to use rock salt during the winter to ward off icy ground. However, it should be noted that the use of this can be very dangerous for the paws of your animal. Therefore, if you are looking to use salt on your walkway or areas where your pets will be walking, you should look for pet-friendly ice melting products and/or foot protection (i.e. booties) for your pet. Unfortunately, sometimes when taking your animal for a walk in public areas, you may encounter rock salt. In this case, you should be sure to thoroughly wipe off their feet, tummies and any exposed areas.
- Antifreeze is fatal to both humans and animals.
Antifreeze is often used during the winter to prevent vehicles’ engines from freezing. However, pet owners should be aware of just how fatal the liquid is to animals. Antifreeze can often attract pets, as they like the sweet taste of it. Therefore, extra precaution needs to be taken when using the substance, as any accidental leaking or spilling could lead to unwanted consumption by your pets. Furthermore, be very cautious when using antifreeze or better yet, look into an animal-friendly antifreeze that is propylene glycol-based.
- Fireplaces can be dangerous.
It is not uncommon for the fireplace to get the most use during the winter months. However, those with pets should be aware of the possible hazards they impose. Pet owners should ensure to purchase a screen to protect their animals from flying sparks and flames. In addition, pets should be kept at a safe distance from both fire places and portable heaters to avoid overheating and/or burns.
- “Beef” up your pet’s diet in the winter.
As the weather gets chillier, your pets’ metabolisms have to work harder in order to keep their systems running at a suitable temperature. This causes both cats and dogs to burn more calories in extreme temperatures. Therefore, it is suggested you increase their meal portions to help ensure they are getting an appropriate amount of food to make up for their increased energy consumption.
- Check your pets’ water supplies.
With the cold temperatures, it is likely that your animal’s water dishes may freeze, especially if the water is kept outside. Therefore, you should be consistently checking to make sure that your dogs and/or cats have constant access to fresh, drinkable water.
- Remember that outdoor cats need your help.
Even though the temperatures are changing, it doesn’t mean that outdoor animals needs are. If you regularly feed outdoor animals, it is suggested you consider using a Styrofoam cooler and a straw to create a makeshift shelter that will help them stay comfortable during the harsh weather this winter.
Lastly, remember that pets are members of your family and therefore, should be cared for as such. While the winter season can be beautiful, it can also bring very extreme conditions. Whether it be cold, rain, snow or storms, it always better to err on the side of caution.
So, be knowledgeable about your specific pet(s) and know how to best care for their safety, health and overall well-being. You can learn this and also how you can help even more animals, through North Shore’s website, www.AnimalLeague.org. North Shore Animal League America sustains its mission to rescue, nurture and adopt nearly 20,000 orphaned animals into loving homes each year.
These equally helpful and important tips were provided by Christina Travalja, Shelter Director at North Shore Animal League America.