WINNIPEG, MB. - As Manitobans, we pride ourselves on how we handle the tough winter season that mother nature throws at us each year. Snow and ice and cold, that’s nothing right? It’s important we remember to take extra steps to make sure our furry family members are comfortable and safe during the winter months.
1) Keep your pets inside! If it’s too cold for you to be out for extended periods of time, it’s too cold for your dog or cat. Frostbite on sensitive paws, ears and tails can occur just as quickly as your exposed skin. Some breeds of dogs are more equipped for being outside during the cold, but they must have adequate shelter with insulation and a break from the wind.
2) Watch those paws! When walking your dog, be aware of the temperature of the ground and how quickly frostbite can occur on your pooch’s paw pads. Slowly and gently get your dog accustomed to wearing doggy boots or keep walks shorter in length on particularly cold days. If your dog has a particularly short or sparse coat, get them a doggy sweater as well to keep them comfortable during walk time. Dogs won’t complain when they’re cold so it’s our job to make sure they are warm.
3) Bang the hood of your vehicle before starting it. Cats can be sneaky and will look for warm places to take shelter. In their mind, curling up next to your car engine is a good idea. However this is how cats can get terribly hurt when you start your car. A simple bang on the hood of the vehicle will let cats know to get out of there.
4) Be aware around bodies of water! During the winter freeze and spring thaw, pets can easily slip through ice on rivers and lakes and drown. Keep them safe on leash near natural bodies of water.
5) Clean up winter puddles on your driveway and keep pets away from puddles on the street. These puddles can sometimes contain antifreeze which often consists of ethylene glycol. This chemical is particularly tasty to pets but is incredibly toxic. If you suspect your pet may have ingested a poison, contact your vet immediately.
6) Wipe off your pets’ paws and underbelly after walks. Many salts and ice melting products can irritate your pets’ skin and may be fatal if ingested. Elect to use sand on your own walks or purchase pet safe ice melters, available at many pet stores.
7) Be aware of your pet’s diet! A lot of pets get less exercise in winter, in favour of cuddling on the couch on those especially cold days. And some pets activity level increases if they participate in winter sports like sled pulling or skijoring. It’s important to adjust your pet’s caloric intake accordingly so they maintain a healthy weight.
8) Leave your pet at home! Parked cars can get particularly chilly on colder days, acting like a refrigerator. Do not leave your pet unattended in your parked car.
9) Take care of their skin! Just like us, the dry air can affect your pet’s skin and coat, causing dry skin and dandruff. Reduce how often you bathe your dog as this can dry out their coat, but brush your dog frequently to help their skin circulation and avoid matting. Visit your vet or local pet store to look at supplements that can help your pet maintain their health.
Winter can have extra hazards for you and your pet, but if you follow these safety tips it can also be a lot of fun!