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Keeping Pets Safe in Severe Weather

About a week ago, those of us in the northeastern part of the US were absolutely hammered with a giant snowstorm (Winter Storm Freyr, or so they called it). The storm brought blinding winds, freezing rain, and pounding snowfall…we actually got about eight inches in just a couple of hours! It was beautiful to watch from the safety of indoors, but the next day, everything was covered with snow and ice and the shoveling and clearing began in earnest. It’s never fun to spend a whole day behind a snow shovel, but what about our pets? These last couple of months of winter will continue to bring severe weather to many of us and if you’re in a part of the world that receives frigid temperatures, slick ice, and deep snow, read on to find out more about how you can keep your pets happy and safe in these inclement conditions.

image from stock.xchng

image from stock.xchng

Avoid the Outdoors

When possible, keeping your pets inside where they’re warm and safe is one of the best solutions. In particular, keeping cats indoors throughout the worst of the winter weather spells is the best option for them. Cats will have particularly difficult time finding food outdoors during severe winter weather, they can be exposed to violently cold temperatures, and can even become prey for larger animals. In some cases, cats can seek shelter near, under, or even under the hoods of stored vehicles. This can be particularly dangerous if the driver is unaware and can spell disaster very quickly. If your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat and you’re worried he’ll be restless while stuck indoors, tempt him with a warm, dry bed, or a bit of extra playtime/exercise time so that he can exercise those hunting instincts while in the safety of a warm home.

 Monitor Time Spent Outdoors

Naturally, your animals, even if they are comfortable outside during the cold, won’t be able to spend as much time outside as they would in the warmer months. The American Animal Hospital Association advises that you join your pets outside when they need to go out. When you feel the chill in your fingers and on your face and are ready to go in, it’s time for them to come inside as well. Of course, some animals will have better luck outside during the cold than others. Young, healthy dogs (not puppies) and breeds like Huskies and Great Pyrenees will be able to stay out much longer than small, short-haired dogs for obvious reasons, but be sure to take your dog’s health into consideration no matter his breed. It’s a good idea to get a routine check-up before the big snows hit. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you exactly how safe it is for your pet to romp about outside, and how much time is safest given his breed and overall health.

 Cleaning Up at the Door

Once your pet comes back in from the cold, be sure to stop her at the door to clean off her paws and footpads from any ice, snow, or salt she may have picked up outside. In particular, antifreezes, salts and chemical salts can be especially dangerous. If left on the footpads, these compounds can cause chapping and irritation and if your dog licks the salt off of her paws, this could cause digestive upset and inflammation. Ice and frozen snow can be sharp and potentially dangerous to soft sensitive skin and should also be removed as soon as possible. To avoid these problems, thoroughly wipe her paws with a warm, damp washcloth at the door.

 Keep the House Warm Too

Pets who typically sleep on the floor under the bed, or in a favorite spot in a chilly room should be provided with some extra accommodations in the cold months. Lie blankets or a soft cozy pet bed where your pet usually sleeps. For instance, if your cat usually curls up under your bed, line the floor with soft blankets to provide a warm barrier between him and the chilly floor. If your dog nestles up on a chair that might be near a drafty window, encourage her to join you in a warmer room or provide a warm dog bed in the opposite corner of the room, to coax her away from the cold.

We hope these tips have helped both you and your pets stay a little warmer this season, and if you have any other severe weather tips, please pass them our way!

Sources: American Animal Hospital Association, ASPCA, Humane Society

 

 

 

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