With the weather cooling down quickly, it’s time to start thinking about how your pet fares during the winter months. The drastic change in temperature can mean changes to your daily routine with your pet, making it important for pet parents to consider these topics.
Pets are sensitive to weather changes, regardless of their age, size, or coat type. Even thicker coated animals can get frostbite, so please keep your cat or dog inside during the cold. Shorter haired or hairless animals likely will require coats or sweaters when outside in order to allow them to maintain a normal body temperature. Older animals with arthritis can have more sensitive joints in the winter, so please make sure to consult with your veterinarian on managing certain medical conditions that may be affected by the cold. Be aware of signs that your pet is cold, such as whimpering, shivering, hiding/burrowing, and lethargy, and get them inside as soon as possible. When in doubt, stay inside on especially cold days. What’s better than cuddling up by the fireplace?
It’s not just your pet’s coat that is sensitive when outside. Many dogs and cats have very sensitive paws during the winter from the combination of the cold ground and de-icers. If you notice your cat limping after being outside, or your dog limping while you’re on a walk, check for any cuts or abrasions on their paw surfaces. Some dogs are more sensitive to the cold than others and will require booties to allow them to enjoy their winter walks. If your dog has long hair between his or her paw pads, keeping that hair trimmed will help prevent snow accumulating between their paws and causing discomfort.
Antifreeze is a common toxin veterinarians see ingested during the cold, and causes significant kidney damage. Make sure to clean up all antifreeze spills, and store any antifreeze containers out of your pet’s reach. Even small amounts such as what can be licked off of paws after walking through an antifreeze puddle can be enough to cause kidney damage in cats!
Just like you prepare for the possibility of emergency weather conditions by having candles and non-perishable food on hand, make sure your pet is prepared too. Make sure to always have enough of your pet’s food on hand to get them through at least a week were you to be unable to purchase more, as well as a fresh water source and any medications they require.
Written By: Dr. Justine Antunes, DVM