Cold Weather Common Sense
With the mercury falling during winter, San Juan Veterinary Hospital advises pet owners to be aware of special precautions and animal care tips to keep their pets healthy, happy and warm.
There are a variety of dangers associated with cold weather and pets. Pet owners can take a few simple steps to ensure that their pet braves the cold winter months.
In addition to dropping temperatures, cold weather dangers for pets include precipitation and wind. Just as in humans, pets can suffer from frostbite and hyperthermia during the winter months. When in doubt about the weather conditions, it's best to leave pets indoors.
- Pet owners are encouraged to keep pets inside whenever possible or to provide appropriate shelter, water, and bedding it the pet must be left outside for any length of time during cold weather. Keep pets indoors for general health conditions such as diabetes, heart and kidney disease, and hormone inbalances. Younger and older pets also have compromised abilities to regulate body heat and should be kept indoors as well.
- Cats are attracted to the warmth of car engines. Check beneath the car, honk the horn or rap on the hood before starting the engine because the animal can be seriously, if not fatally, injured if the car is started.
- Pets' foot pads often collect rock salt and ice. Prevent irritation by wiping pads with a warm wash cloth after every trip outside.
- If clean, unfrozen water isn't readily available, pets are more likely to drink out of puddles or gutters. This puts animals at risk of poisoning from antifreeze, household chemicals, and other pollutants that end up on the street.
- Pet owners may dress their animals in sweaters or outer wear in an attempt to keep them warm, but keep in mind that pets lose most of their body heat from the pads on their feet, through their ears and respiratory track.
For those horse owners remember: Water troughs must be cleared from ice. Water heaters work well in tin troughs (don't use plastic troughs, they will melt). Horses should be provided with some protection from the wind (ie, trees, shed, barn).
Call our office with any questions regarding winter care.