2002-01-26 / Community

Keep Your Pets Safe in the Snow

Keep Your Pets Safe in the Snow

Cold weather can be dangerous to pets. More animals are lost around this time of year than any other, and simple things that in a month or two will be everyday behavior could be fatal to your cat or dog now. North Shore Animal League offers a list of tips for helping your pet survive the winter in as good heath as he or she started it in.

First of all, in extremely cold weather, dogs should be taken outside only when necessary and not for very long. Toy breeds, especially ones with short hair, should wear sweaters or coats, which you can get in any pet store. Some of them may look silly, but they keep the dog's belly from getting frostbite, which, believe it or not, can happen. Puppies less than 4 months or age should be kept inside altogether.

When you do take your dog outside, do not leave the dog in your car. A car can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold, and the animal can freeze to death. It is a very bad idea to let a dog off his leash in the winter, because they can lose their scent markers in snow and ice and get lost more easily. Salt and other chemicals used to melt ice can also be dangerous, and you should wipe your pet's paws when they come inside. If you think he or she has ingested any chemicals, call the Animal Poison Hotline immediately. The number is 1-888-232-8870.

The same course of action should be followed with anti-freeze. But anti-freeze has the additional problems of being both instantly lethal to dogs and cats and attractive to them as well. It tastes sweet, so you pet will drink it if it is left around. Make sure to clean up all spills thoroughly and as soon as they happen. If possible, see if you can find a brand that is pet safe.

It is also a good idea to check with your vet to see if it is a good idea to increase your dog's food supply, and especially his protein intake. Colder temperatures make your pets burn more calories. Do not clip your dogs coat in the winter, it will keep him warm, but do brush it daily. Do not bathe your dog unless necessary, and try to have it done by a professional.

Cats should not be let outside. They can freeze to death any time it is below freezing. Feral cats often sleep under the hood of a car to keep warm. It might be a good idea to bang on the hood of your car before getting in, if there are some in your area, to alert the cat to get out.

Follow these guidelines, and ensure your pet's safety for another year. They will thank you for it-maybe in barks, but it's thanks nonetheless.

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