Your dog or cat may have a fur coat, but there are many cold weather dangers to be aware of to keep your pet safe during winter.
According to the ASPCA, if it is too cold for you, it is probably too cold for your pet. Dogs and cats are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia.
Be aware of your pet’s tolerance to cold temperatures and shorten your dog’s walks. Even dogs bred for colder climates should not be left outside for long periods in below-freezing weather. Dogs and cats should be kept indoors, especially during exceptionally cold spells.
“My best advice is to keep cats indoors always - not just in winter,” said Sandy Hafenbrack, owner of Critter Sitters Pet Sitting Service, LLC in Sugar Grove.
Leaving a pet in a car during winter can be just as dangerous as the summertime heat. Your vehicle acts as a refrigerator, trapping cold air that can cause animals to freeze to death.
When grooming your pet, never shave your dog down to the skin in the winter. Longer coats will provide more warmth, so limit grooming to a trim to minimize clinging ice balls and salt crystals that can dry on your dog’s skin. If your dog is short-haired, consider a coat or sweater that covers from the base of the tail to the belly.
If you care for a stray or feral cat, there are measures you can take to keep them safe. Provide a shelter that will keep them warm on colder winter nights.
“You can make a shelter out of a box or a plastic storage bin,” said Hafenbrack. “The shelter can be lined with blankets or old towels and then placed in an area out of the wind.”
Make sure there is fresh food and water available. Cats require extra calories to keep them warm in the winter. You should also put fresh water in a heated bowl or bucket to keep it from freezing.
It is also important to prevent poisoning. Cats are especially drawn to the sweet taste of anti-freeze, and even a few teaspoons can be fatal to dogs and cats. Clean up any antifreeze spills quickly.
Critter Sitters Pet Sitting Service, LLC: www.alltopcrittersitters.com, (630) 844-9554