by Sojos | January 29, 2013
Winter’s always going to be a little chilly, but every now and again a harsh cold snap descends. With temperatures and wind chills in some parts of the U.S. dipping well below 0 F this week, animals of all kinds can be very vulnerable to frostbite or worse. By protecting your own pet and lending a helping hand to others, you can make the difference between life and death.
During dangerously cold periods, be aware not just of your pets, but other animals that live in your neighborhood. If you keep in contact with your neighbors, offer to help provide pet care if they are away from home during the winter.
For your own pets, keep these tips in mind to give added protection from the cold:
* Don’t leave your dog in a car. Whether the car is running or turned off, it’s simply a bad idea. Whenever possible, keep your dog inside your home.
* Remember that clothing can help all dogs. While you might think of dog clothes as being just for fashion-forward lap dogs, remember that certain items, like water-resistant jackets and booties, can help breeds of all sizes to fight the cold. Well-insulated coats can provide added warmth for short-haired breeds. Booties can help prevent uncomfortable ice and snow clots from forming between the paw pads of larger or furrier dogs, while also protecting short-haired dogs from cracking, chapping and peeling pads. But keep in mind that clothing can only help to a certain point – if your dog is outside for a long time in extreme cold, he could still suffer health problems.
* Be extra cautious about quick cats. Lots of cats will make a run for it as soon as they see a door opening. If your cat has that habit, be extra aware of it as you come and go from the house. Simple training methods like a quick spray from a water bottle or clapping hands upon turning the door knob can often help cats break this habit. Over time, the cat will back away when she hears the sound and bolting into the frigid cold will no longer be a concern.
* Groom accordingly. If you have a pet that gets frequent haircuts and trims, make sure the grooming is done appropriately for the season. Keeping your dog’s body coat longer will help him naturally retain some heat (though again, it can only do so much and isn’t a complete safeguard against frostbite). However, maintain well-trimmed fur on his paws will also help prevent snow build-ups if you go for walks without booties.
* Watch ears and tails. Your pet’s extremities are very susceptible to frostbite, so know what to look for, particularly on the ears and tail. Keep an eye out for skin turning bright red or white. If you think your dog is showing signs of frostbite, remember to use only warm (not hot) damp cloths on the area, and don’t rub, massage or use heating products like electric blankets or hairdryers. Seek a holistic vet’s care for frostbite.
Above all, remember that even though they have fur coats, your pets are just as uncomfortable and vulnerable in the cold as you are – and perhaps even more so. Taking care of your own animals, as well as looking out for others, is critically important during winter’s deepest freezes.