You are probably aware that hot weather can be tough on pets, but did you know that winter could be equally as dangerous? It’s true – cold weather, ice and snow, and even ice-melting agents can pose health risks to your animal companion. Meanwhile, a bored dog or cat can chew on houseplants, decorations, and seasonal foods that are not healthy to be consumed. Here are some signs that your pet may need to visit Northern Oaks Bird & Animal Hospital.
Protect Your Pets from the Hazards of Winter
Keep Your Pet Warm
While outdoor pets acclimate to colder temperatures in San Antonio, they cannot tolerate extreme cold conditions. Animals can develop hypothermia, a serious condition where their body temperature falls below normal. They can also develop frostbite. Bring your indoor/outdoor pets inside during cold weather. Provide dry, draft-free, heated shelters for large animals and strictly outdoor pets. Just as in summer, never leave your pet alone in a car during cold weather. Cars can act like refrigerators that hold in the cold.
Do you hate walking in the rain or sleet, and have trouble walking in the snow and ice? Imagine doing it barefoot and without a coat! Wind, rain, snow, and sleet make any outdoor activity unbearable in the winter. Exposure to cold rain or snow puts your pet at risk for hypothermia, frostbite, and other winter-related problems.
Consider fitting your dog with a coat or sweater, particularly if your dog is a short haired breed. Waterproof boots can protect your dog’s feet from ice and snow. Have several coats, sweaters, and boots on hand so that your dog can wear something warm and dry each time it goes out.
Calories provide the body with heat, so your pet may eat more in cold weather. To prevent unhealthy weight gain, choose food that is high in nutrients but low in calories. Cut back on treats and encourage your pet to stay warm by playing.
Bathing and Shaving
Washing your pet too often may remove oils and increase its risk of developing dry, itchy, flaky skin. If you must bathe your pet during the winter, use moisturizing shampoos and rinses as recommended by your veterinarian.
Never shave your dog down to the skin in the winter, as your pooch relies on this fur to stay warm. If your dog has a problem with ice balls clinging to its fur, simply trim the areas where ice tends to cling. Trimming your dog’s fur can also minimize its exposure to salt crystals and de-icing chemicals. Be sure to trim the fur around your pet’s toes, as ice balls tend to develop here.
Wipe off or wash your pet’s paws after going outside
The salt crystals and de-icing agents used in winter can dry your pet’s skin. Check your pet’s paws for signs of injury associated with cold weather, such as bleeding or cracked paw pads, each time it goes out. Watch for signs of sudden lameness, which may be due to injury or ice accumulation between your pet’s toes.
Schedule an appointment with our doctors to receive preventive care for your pets. As with humans, pets are more vulnerable to contagious diseases in the winter because they spend more time cooped up inside with other animals.
Preventive care includes examinations, screenings, vaccinations, and other care to detect problems at an early stage when diseases are easier to treat. These screenings can also detect problems that get worse in the winter, such as arthritis.
Playing in the snow is a special time for pets and their human companions, but it can also be dangerous. Make your pets healthier and happier this winter with these easy tips from our doctors. You want to do everything you can to keep your pets safe and healthy during the winter months. Even some things that may seem harmless can cause an issue, which is why it is important to take these tips into account. Stay safe and happy holidays from all of us at Northern Oaks Bird & Animal Hospital!