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Monday, November 21, 2011

Keeping Your Pets Safe In Cold Weather

Here in Wisconsin winter is upon us. Soon we will have snow and temperatures will be dropping into below freezing temperatures. Those cold temperatures should be accompanied by caution when it comes to your pets safety. Here are some tips to keep your dog safe in winter.

1. Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. It's easy for a dog to lose their scent in snow and ice making it easy for them to get lost. It's unsafe for you to go looking for them. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season.
2. Thoroughly wipe off your dog's legs and stomach when she comes in out of the rain, snow or ice. Check her sensitive paw pads, which may bleed from snow or ice encrusted in them. Also, your dog may have stepped in salt, antifreeze or other chemicals that could hurt your dog if she ingests them while licking her paws. Consider getting boots for your dog. They will get used to wearing them and they will protect your pups feet from the cold and sidewalk salt.

3. Consider getting a warm coat or sweater for your dog if you have a short-haired breed. Look for one with a high collar or turtleneck that covers your dog from the base of her tail on top and to the belly underneath. It's important to keep their vital organs warm to prevent hypothermia. While this may seem like a luxury, it is a necessity for many dogs.

4.  Never leave your dog alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold. Your dog could freeze to death.
5. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only for a bathroom break.
6. If your dog spends a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities, increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep his fur thick and healthy. Dogs who must be kept outdoors should have an insulated shelter off the ground and out of the wind. During extreme cold they should be brought into the house. Check their water supply frequently to make sure it isn't frozen.

7. Antifreeze, even in very tiny doses, is a poison for dogs. Because of its sweet taste, animals are attracted to it. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle. To prevent accidental poisonings, more and more people are using animal-friendly products that contain propylene glycol rather than the traditional products containing ethylene glycol. Call your veterinarian or The ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center (ASPCA/NAPCC) if you suspect your animal has been poisoned.

8. Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter. Leave the coat in a longer style, which provides more warmth. Remember that such a style will require more frequent brushing due to dry winter air and static electricity. When you bathe your dog, make sure she is completely dry before you take her out for a walk.

9. Make sure your dog has a warm place to sleep far away from all drafts and off the floor, such as in a dog bed or basket with a warm blanket or pillow in it.

Remember, if it's too cold for you, it's probably too cold for your pet. Although most are covered with a thick coat of fur there are still parts of their bodies that are exposed and susceptible to frostbite. A dog's nose, ears, and feet, depending on the breed, are often not as fur covered leaving them exposed to the cold. Be sure to contact your veterinarian any time your dog is acting strangely or is showing signs of hypothermia. 

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