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Winter Weather Tips
Fall is the time to prepare outside pets for the coming cold weather. It is recommended that all pets are brought indoors during the colder months, but even indoor dogs must spend some of their day outside. Here are some helpful hints to ensure your pet gets through the colder months healthy and safe.
Dogs kept outside should have at-will access to a dry shelter. A small, insulated doghouse is best. Bigger is NOT better!!!! The house should be small enough to hold the animal’s body heat which will keep them warm. It should be large enough for them to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably in. Place the doghouse in a location out of the wind and place it on a raised platform to keep it off the ground. There should also be an access door with a heavy flap or plastic to prevent drafts. Suitable bedding should be used inside such as hay, straw, or wood chips, to retain warmth. Blankets and quilts should not be used as bedding because they trap moisture and can cause your dog to become damp and chilly.
Since humidity is much lower in the winter your pet is very susceptible to dehydration. Providing a constant water supply is the best solution. Check water bowls at least twice a day to be sure the water is not frozen. Dark dishes will absorb heat from the sun and help prevent freezing. Using plastic instead of metal is best. Dogs tongues may freeze and stick to a metal bowl. Outside dogs require a higher caloric intake during the colder months and will want to eat more frequently. This is because of the energy needed to keep warm. More frequent feedings or increasing the amount of food will help.
Anti-freeze is EXTREMELY toxic to dogs and cats. Unfortunately, it is also sweet tasting and attractive to animals. It can be fatal causing irreversible kidney damage, coma, and death. If you suspect your pet has ingested anti-freeze; call your vet immediately. There is an antidote available, but time is of the essence.
Road salt can be very irritating to your pets sensitive paw pads. This chemical can also be harmful if ingested. After walks, gently wash pads with warm water to prevent irritation or ingestion from licking. Another solution is to put baby oil on before going out.
Another common winter hazard for your pet is becoming lost. Dogs can lose their scent in snow and ice or become upset during storms and run away. Keeping them in a fenced yard or on a leash will help keep them safely at home. Having your pet micro-chipped and tagged will ensure their safe return if they do happen to become lost.
Caroline County Humane Society, 407 West Bell Street, Ridgely, MD 21660 410-820-1600