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Winter-izing The Family Pet

NOVEMBER 05, 2013

As the colder weather draws closer, we humans prepare for the changes. Holiday activities are planned and we select warmer clothing as the winter chill arrives. Just as you plan for yourself and your family, don’t forget the needs of the four-legged family member as well. The coming months not only include the promises of festive activities but also can place our canine and feline friends’ health in jeopardy.

  • Carefully monitor your companions during Halloween and limit outside activities on that night. Dropped candy can be harmful to your pet. Also, individuals dressed in costume may frighten or stress your pet. Importantly, don’t let your pet be a victim of a Halloween prank by uncaring people.

  • Limit the snacks you might want to save for your companion pet from the Thanksgiving table. Be sure to check carefully for any bone fragments in all foods.

  • Remember that many holiday plants are toxic to you, your children and your pets.

  • The holiday season is not an ideal time for introducing a pet into your family. Adopted pets need attention and a stable environment which is difficult to provide during the Holidays.

  • Holiday celebrations often mean decorations that can attract the curiosity of dogs and cats alike. Be careful that any ornaments or decorations that may be made with toxic paints or glues are kept away from areas accessible to your companion pets. Avoid using glass ornaments. They break easily and may cut a pet’s feet and mouth. Keep dangling cords, ribbons and string away from your pet’s reach.

In many areas of the country, winter weather often creates the need for special planning and preparation for all family members, pets included.

  • Check your pet’s outside water regularly in harsh, cold weather to make sure it doesn’t freeze.

  • Use a ceramic or safe-plastic water bowl outside. Remember that an animal’s tongue might freeze to a metal bowl.

  • Ice melting chemicals and salts are not only irritants to your pet’s feet but possibly toxic as well. Wipe your pet’s feet after an outside stroll to prevent ingestion of toxins. Coolant overflow from radiators is also toxic but attractive to animals. Be sure your pet does not drink from coolant puddles.

  • Cats sometimes seek shelter from the cold by napping near the warmth of a car engine. Be very caring and very careful! Open the car hood or make enough noise to arouse sleeping animals prior to starting the car engine.

  • Depending on the weather, limit your companion’s outside activities. Pet extremities, such as feet, ears, tail and nose are vulnerable to frostbite. If this occurs, seek medical help as soon as possible.

  • Dress your companion in a sweater or booties as needed.

  • Dogs confined to doghouses should be visited regularly. Make sure the doghouse has been draft-proofed and that snow does not impede the entryway. Providing blankets or a heat source would be helpful. Ideally, all pets should be brought inside when temperatures drop severely.

  • Like people pets seem to be more susceptible to illness in the winter. Take your pets to the vet if you observe any symptoms of illness.

  • Never give your dog human prescriptions or over-the-counter medicines without consulting your veterinarian first.

  • Use an all natural skin and coat supplement to address dry and flaky skin.

By providing for the comfort and care of your family and your companion pet throughout the winter, you can enjoy the season, knowing that all family members, including the four-legged ones, have been winter-ized.