When Cute, Fluffy Coats Just Aren’t Enough…

“Mommy, I hate the cold.” Yep, my youngest takes after me for sure. Unless I have a winter activity planned, skiing, tubing etc., I’ll take that 95 degree Virginia summer heat any day over this stuff. And yet there’s Scooter, that tiny toy poodle from down the street, who’s walking by with his person as I type this to “take care of business”…in his bare puppy feet. Brrrr.

Our animals need a little extra care during cold weather, and I’m not just referring to those cute fluffy doggy jackets. In fact, animals who are used to the warmth of our homes are just as prone to hypothermia and frostbite as we are if left outside for a prolonged amount of time. So other than daily walks and short outdoor playtime, leave them in and get creative with indoor playtime.

Also, be sure to clear your steps and walkways off before heading out for those short outside trips; my brother’s dog suffered a torn ACL in his knee after slipping down icy stairs just last week. If you use any chemical deicer, or know that it has been used on you and Fido’s usual walking route, be sure to wash his paws off with warm water once you’re home; such chemicals can cause the paw pads to crack and bleed, or cause intestinal upset if ingested when Fido gives himself a bath.

Our elderly companions, particularly those who suffer from arthritis, are more prone to aches and pains during cold weather as well, so keep an eye out for signs that your animal might be suffering, and consult your veterinarian for cold weather pain relief options. Provide soft, heated bedding, and handle her with extra care during these potentially painful months.

Lastly, lookout for the safety of those animals who aren’t as lucky as yours, and are left to fend for themselves in this wretched chill. Outdoor cats often look for warmth under car hoods, so give a quick bang on the hood before starting your engine so they can escape. Dogs left to live outdoors need proper housing and bedding and an endless supply of fresh water to survive harsh winter weather, so if you notice a neighbor’s outdoor dog is lacking one of these, do what you can to provide it.

For more information on keeping animals safe during the winter months, please visit http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/pet-care-tips/cold-weather-tips.aspx.

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