Thursday, January 8, 2009

Winterizing for Your Companion Animal

Winterizing for Your Companion Animal

Frostbite, hypothermia, bone fractures or sprains, footpad bruises or gashes are common when temperatures drop in winter. No dog is invincible to frigid winter temperatures, even tolerant breeds such as Huskies or Malamutes. If your companion spends time outdoors, be certain to increase his time gradually, factoring in wind chill, and keeping check on their tolerance levels. Cold proof the doghouse by waterproofing, elevating and lining with straw, shavings or blankets, attaching a clear flap over entrances to prevent drafts yet allowing for light and vision. Use heated bowls outdoors, checking that water intake is satisfactory. If your pet’s fluid intake is questionable, add some kibble or chicken soup to warm water to aid in hydration. Training your companion not to bolt out the door may prevent slips on ice. Avoid sidewalks treated with salt, magnesium or calcium chloride, which irritate the feet and upset the stomach if ingested. Wash feet off to be safe, keeping towels at the door. Consider a sweater vest for thin-coated breeds, and use booties that are snug but not so tight as to cut off circulation. Reduce baths in winter, brushing frequently to remove dead hair and mats, which increases circulation and improves hair growth. A mini massage will warm joints which stiffen faster in colder climates. Clip tufts of hair between the footpads to prevent ice balls from forming that may bruise or cut the feet. Apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly or aloe on pads before heading out. If ice forms, gently warm the pet, drying and massaging footpads. Apply antiseptic to minor cuts and enlist your veterinarian’s help for persistent bleeding or gashes that may need suturing. When playing outdoors with your pet, watch for fatigue, a common symptom of hypothermia. Watch your pet’s weight, as caloric needs are increased. A teaspoon of vegetable oil added to the diet may prevent dry coats. Keeping humidity levels indoors at 25-30% is beneficial for both man and our companions. Any use of space heaters requires constant supervision with pets as well as children. May you and your companion enjoy a safe and joyous winter season.


Laura said...

Very good sound advice Lady, thanks,

butterfly woman said...

Great advice. I don't have dog now, but my eyes are opened to the extra care that is needed.Our dog was outdoor dog with doghouse but glad we brought him into house on cold days. Does this apply to cats too? I will pass this article on to my friends who are pet owners.
Your love and concern for animals really comes out here. So glad we have the internet to share your words!

Doris said...

Cats are very susceptible to weather. Hunger causes them to eat things that make them very sick. They tend to find their way into car engines trying to keep warm, which can be devastating! Thanks for passing it on!