As the temperature drops and winter sets in, it's crucial to take extra measures to ensure the well-being of the animals that share our homes and neighborhoods. The bitter cold can pose significant health and safety risks to pets, community animals, and wildlife. In this blog post, we'll explore various ways you can protect and support the animals during the chilly winter months.
1. Provide Warm Indoor Shelter:
Make sure all your pets have a warm place to sleep indoors, off the floor, and away from drafts. Consider using heated pads or beds for kittens and older cats, which are available at most pet stores. Keep a close eye on your pets when using any heat source to ensure their safety.
2. Plan for Power Outages:
Prepare for power outages, especially if you have fish, reptiles, or small mammals as pets. Have a plan in place to ensure their well-being and comfort during unexpected power disruptions.
3. Dress Appropriately:
Avoid leaving small, short-haired, or very young and old dogs outside without supervision. Equip them with sweaters, jackets, and booties during walks to keep them safe and cozy. Even larger, long-haired dogs with double fur coats should primarily live indoors and have access to warm, dry shelter when outside.
4. Groom Your Pets:
Regularly groom your pets to prevent matting of their fur, as matted fur doesn't provide adequate protection from the freezing cold.
5. Ensure Access to Fresh Water:
Both pets and wildlife need access to plenty of fresh water. Use tip-resistant, ceramic, or hard plastic water bowls to prevent tongues from sticking and freezing to metal in low temperatures. Leave out clean water for wildlife and replenish it frequently.
6. Beware of Ice Melt Products:
Many ice melt products can be hazardous for animals. After outdoor activities, wipe your pet's feet, legs, and abdomen to prevent ingestion of salt and harmful chemicals. Use pet-friendly ice melt products on your walkways.
7. Safety Measures for Outdoor Activities:
Keep dogs on a leash during snow or ice outings and avoid letting pets walk across frozen ponds or lakes. Ensure your pets are microchipped and have up-to-date identification tags, especially during storms or blizzards.
8. Help Wildlife in Garden Ponds:
If you have a garden pond, create holes in the ice to release toxic gases that can harm fish and frogs. Use hot water carefully to melt the icy layer.
9. Watch for Stray Pets:
Keep an eye out for stray pets and, if found, approach them gently to avoid stress. Take them to a local animal shelter or contact your county's animal control agency if you cannot secure the animal safely.
10. Prevent Snow Drifts:
Avoid allowing snow to pile up high next to your fence, as packed snowdrifts may provide an escape route for dogs.
11. Check for Antifreeze:
Inspect your garage and driveway for antifreeze and other chemicals. Wipe up spills immediately and consider using pet-safe antifreeze made with propylene glycol.
12. Be Cautious When Driving:
Before driving, check your car for resting animals seeking warmth. Give your horn or hood a tap to allow animals to escape safely.
13. Never Leave Pets in Cars:
Avoid leaving pets alone in cars, especially in extreme temperatures.
14. Adjust Food Intake:
Consider your pets' exercise levels during colder weather and adjust their food intake accordingly. Consult with a veterinarian to determine the appropriate amount of food for your furry friends.
By following these winter pet care tips, you can ensure the safety and well-being of your pets, as well as contribute to the protection of community animals and wildlife during the chilly winter months. Stay vigilant and make these practices a part of your routine to create a warm and secure environment for our animal companions.