As winter approaches and the temperature begins to drop, cold and flu season is just around the corner. Just as humans are more likely to get sick around the colder months and winter season, our pets and animals are too!
The key misconception about winter and pets is the belief that pets are able to withstand the cold better then humans can because they are covered in fur. This is not the case. Our pets are accustomed to the warmth of indoor shelter and the cold weather can be just as hard on your pet as it is on you. Allowing your pets to be outside for long periods of time during harsh weather can be very hazardous for them.
Don’t let the cold keep you indoors. Both you and your pets need the exercise. Just make sure that you take the proper precautions before heading outside and keep an eye on your pets for signs when it’s time to go back inside.
Here are some tips:
1. Don’t let winter stop you from heading outside with your pets. A brisk walk is great for your health and your pets’ health! Just make sure to bundle up your pet the same way you bundle up yourself so you can both keep warm while outside. Use a reflective leash and collar so that you can spot your pet easily if its dark outside or if the snow is deep. Coats and boots should be a must for dogs on really cold days.
2. Make sure that your pet always has fresh, non-frozen drinking water. When animals don’t have regular access to clean water, they will turn to gutters and puddles, where there is a strong likelihood that they will ingest something harmful that could make them sick.
3. Your pets health can also affect how long they can stay outdoors. Pets with conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, and hormonal imbalances can compromise their ability to regulate their own body heat, so they should only be outside for a short time. Puppies and senior pets are also especially vulnerable to the cold.
4. Rock salt, ice, and chemical ice can get trapped in a dogs foot pads. Keep your pets pads from getting chapped and raw by putting booties or a balm on their paws before heading outside, and clean them well with a warm washcloth when they come back inside. Booties will also keep your dog from licking the salt off of its feet, which can make them sick.
5. Always provide warm and accessible shelter for animals that must be kept outside for any part of a cold winter day. Animals left outdoors can be very resourceful in trying to find shelter, which can often lead them into a dangerous place, such as a snow bank or under a patio. Attaching a bell to their collar is also highly recommended.
6. If you are too cold to go outside, it is too cold for your pet to go outside!