Winterize Your Pets December 12, 2014 16:08

You spend time winterizing your car and your house, but have you taken the time to winterize your pet?  

With colder temperatures upon us, its a good idea to consider these basic and easy to follow tips to ensure your pets are safe and comfortable during the cold.  

CLOTHING:

Although dogs have a natural fur coat, many need additional protection from the elements; especially if they are of the shorter coat variety or will be in the cold for a significant period of time. For short-hair breeds, clothing should be considered including sweaters, shirts, and coats.  

DOG HOUSE:

An enclosed space (i.e. dog house) with blankets and other insulating bedding materials is essential for dogs who spend most of their time outdoors during the cold.  The dog house will provide the needed protection from the cold wind while allowing the dog's body heat to provide a warm environment.

In addition, if you are traveling by car with your pet, do not leave them in a freezing cold car.  Temps drop very fast when the heat is turned off. Good practice is to keep blankets and extra clothing in the vehicles in case of emergencies and these come in handy if and when you and your pets need to keep warm. In fact, the dog's body temp will help keep the both of you warm under the blankets.  

SIGNS OF HYPOTHERMIA:

In the event your pet is exposed to the cold for a prolonged period of time, it's important to keep an eye out for signs of hypothermia which include: lethargy, weakness, shivering, muscle stiffness, difficulty breathing, and fixed and dilated pupils.  

OTHER DANGERS:

Vehicle Engines:  Unfortunately cats are often killed when finding shelter in and around vehicles in the colder months. To alert any cat that may be near your vehicle's engine, its good practice to bang on your hood a few times while inspecting the vehicle before getting in and starting your car.  It only takes a few seconds to save the life of an unsuspecting cat. 

Anti-Freeze:  Dogs and other pets are attracted to the smell and sweet taste of anti-freeze which kills many animals every year.  It contains ethylene glycol which is a potent toxin to the kidneys.  It only takes a very small amount to cause severe kidney damage and possibly death.  Keep these products in a safe place away from your pets reach and if you suspect that your dog or cat has ingested anti-freeze, get them to the vet immediately.   

With these tips and some common sense, you and your pet can stay safe and cozy during the cold winter months.