It’s official: winter and all of its trappings have arrived. That means snow, ice, and freezing cold temperatures. Just because your pet is covered in fur doesn’t mean they’re comfortable in the cold. In fact, prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures can be just as deadly for pets as it can be for humans. With that in mind, here are a few tips to help keep your pets warm and toasty this winter.
Just like a hot car in the summer, a cold car in the winter can be deadly. Never leave your pet alone in a cold car. Save a warm spot off the floor and away from drafts for your pet to sleep at night. For kittens and older cats, try a heated pad or bed. Be sure to keep a close eye on small, short-haired, very young, or very old dogs when they’re out in the cold. When taking them on a walk, keep them warm with a sweater or a doggy coat. Long haired dogs or breeds that tolerate the cold may be better equipped for snow, but they should also still be supervised. Adjust your animal’s food intake based on the amount of exercise he or she is getting in the winter. (You might consider adjusting your own, too.) Matted fur won’t protect your dog or cat from the cold, so keep their coats well groomed. After taking your dog for a walk, wipe down their feet, legs, and stomach area to prevent ingestion of salt or dangerous chemicals. And always use a pet-friendly ice melt product for your own home. Never let dogs off leash on snow or ice. Antifreeze has a sweet taste that attracts animals, but is a deadly poison. Wipe up any antifreeze spills immediately, or better yet, use pet-safe antifrieeze.
Outdoor cats often nap on or around car engines to keep warm. If there are outdoor cats in your neighborhood, honk the horn before starting your car to make sure any cats hiding next to your tires get out safely. If your dog is let out in your yard, make sure snow drifts near your fence haven’t made it easy for your dog to escape. Keep water available for your dog while he’s outside. Use a tip-resistant, ceramic or hard plastic water bowl rather than a metal bowl. If you have questions about caring for your pet during the winter months, please call University Animal Hospital at (212) 288-8884. Our veterinarians and knowledgeable technicians are available to help you and your pet at all times.