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Winter Pet Care

Life_D16-1When temperatures drop and snow drifts pile high, our pets need help keeping them safe. Even dog breeds that are developed to live in colder climates need attention. There are winter hazards in a city that could harm them.

Here are some tips, depending on the type of pet you own.

  • Don’t leave any pet outdoors for long periods of time when the temperature drops. Pets are sensitive to severe cold and are at risk of frostbite and hypothermia. Your cat or dog may look like they have thick fur but exposed skin on noses, ears and paw pads can quickly freeze and suffer permanent damage.
  • If your dog has long hair around its paws, trim to prevent balls of ice forming when he plays outside.
  • Be careful of letting smaller pets (small dogs and especially cats) outdoors after snow has piled up by a back or side door. These drifts can be very deep!
  • Many dogs and some cats actually enjoy playing outside in the snow. If this describes your pet, make sure they have some kind of shelter and you bring them in after a short period of time. Outdoor dogs appreciate a “dog house”. You can also try this out for your cat. Use an upside down Styrofoam cooler with a hole in one end, and place it near the house.
  • Antifreeze has a sweet taste that may attract animals and children. Wipe up spills and keep antifreeze (and all household chemicals) out of reach.
  • The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet’s feet. Wipe all paws with a damp towel before your pet licks them. Larger dogs don’t seem to mind paw “booties”.
  • Smaller dog breeds definitely need a winter coat, particular those with hair instead of fur!
  • Smaller pets such as birds, hamsters and guinea pigs, can be chilled if their cages are kept in drafty areas. Keep cages away from doors and windows in winter.
  • Pets that go outdoors in the winter eat and drink more so you may have to adjust their diet. Pets that stay indoors sleep more in the winter and exercise less so you may have to adjust their diet as well!
  • Cats and dogs, as they get older, often develop arthritis. Watch for this and if your dog struggles, help him up the stairs, or make sure your cat can get to her favourite spot without jumping too high.
  • Like the summer, NEVER leave pets unattended in a car during winter.