8 Ways to Keep Our Pets Safe and Healthy

Like humans, the cold weather can affect our dogs in ways we might not imagine. With the cold months upon us, it is imperative that we take extra precautions to keep our family dogs warm, protected, and healthy. 

During the cold winter months, be mindful of the time your dog spends outdoors. Don’t leave your dog outside for extended periods and bring her in if she gets wet or starts to shiver. Shivering means that her body temperature is lowering and the first sign of hypothermia. 

When your dog is inside, allow her to sleep on warm blankets or pads if she stays in a crate or on uncarpeted floors. Keep her bedding and feeding areas away from drafts and take her to a veterinarian if you notice any symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing, sneezing or a runny nose. Just like humans, dogs can get colds. 

Supplemental heat sources can burn your dog if you don’t take precautions. Portable heaters should be kept out of her reach, and all fireplaces need to be screened so that she doesn’t get injured by flying ashes. 

Keep her well groomed so that her healthy fur helps insulate her against the cold. Short-haired dogs – or those with coarse coats – have a tendency to feel the cold more than long-haired breeds, so consider purchasing a sweater or coat for your pet to wear when outside. If she gets wet from the rain or snow, use a blow dryer set on medium heat or a towel to dry her off. 

Make sure the hair is trimmed from around her toes and foot pads to facilitate snow and ice removal. You will need to rinse her feet with warm water if she walks on any rock salt used to melt the ice on sidewalks. Rubbing a small dab of petroleum into her pads softens them and prevents cracking in the dry cold. 

If your pet spends a lot of time playing outdoors, or is a working hunting or herding dog, plan on feeding her more calories during the cold weather to keep her body temperature regulated. It takes more calories in cold weather to stay warm for animals as well as humans. Also provide plenty of fresh water. Licking ice or eating snow do not compensate for a lack of water. Dehydration and a lowering of her core body temperature will result. 

Keep your dog away from any suspicious liquids during the winter, particularly any antifreeze that collects on driveways or roadways. Although it tastes and smells good to dogs, the propylene glycol in antifreeze is highly poisonous and can send a dog into kidney failure within 24 hours of ingestion. 

Knowing these handy tips and suggestions for your canine companion can keep her safe and in good physical shape until spring. 

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