A BETTER COMPANION
 PET TRAINING


WINTER PET CARE TIPS

        It's that time of year">


 



 A BETTER COMPANION
 PET TRAINING


WINTER PET CARE TIPS

        It's that time of year, where it is getting awfully cold. Even though some of us love to play in the snow, it can be real scary stuff. If you're little, you can be buried before you leave your back porch. Even the big guys have trouble navigating through the drifts. Please use a little common sense in this wintery wonderland.

        In this weather, there is no such thing as an "outdoor" pet. Bring ALL pets into the house when the temperatures drop! Feed your pets a little more. Like people, they burn more calories in the cold, both to keep warm and because exercise is more strenuous when running through the snow. The more your pet is outside, the more extra fuel he'll need. Be sure your pet has plenty of fresh water to drink. Pets, like people, lose moisture through breathing, and the effects of cold temperatures are magnified by dehydration. Keep water bowls free of snow and ice.

        Notice that your skin is drier and flakier during the winter? Your pet's skin may dry out, too, causing his coat to lose insulating ability. If you notice flaking skin ("doggie dandruff") or a lusterless coat, ask your vet about adding a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil to his food.

        Keep an eye on your pets when you put them outside to "do their business." Wind chills cut through short fur just as fast as they do through your street clothes, and even tough paw pads can be frostbitten. Use pet sweaters and boots that fit well but leave plenty of freedom of movement for walking, running, playing, and, going, if your pet will tolerate them, and don't leave animals outside too long! If the pet is shivering or limping--even if having a great time playing--get him into the house immediately!

        When the snow starts piling up, shovel paths and a bathroom area in your yard. Some people make a game of it with their dogs, adding to the paths each time they go outside to form runs and mazes that they can enjoy together. If your dog insists on going for walks regardless of the weather, don't go too far when it's really cold, and clean off your dog's feet when you've been walking on plowed streets and salted sidewalks. Salt and road chemicals can burn those pads, and they don't do the digestive tract any good when licked off paws, either. Don't use salt or chemicals in dog pens or play areas!

        Everybody has heard about the dangers of anti-freeze and windshield de-icer, but until pets quit dying from lapping up spills in their owners' driveways, the message bears repeating. These products smell sweet, taste good to your dog, and even as little as a teaspoonful can kill (depending on the size of the pet). Symptoms include an appearance of "being drunk," lack of coordination, vomiting, depression, and increased water intake and urination. Call your vet immediately if you suspect anti-freeze poisoning; these chemicals kill in a matter of 4-8 hours or less! Even if the pet seems to be getting better, irreparable kidney damage may have already occurred. Of course you're careful yourself or use an animal-friendly anti-freeze, but be aware that others aren't always as knowledgeable or conscientious. Keep your pets away from any spills you might encounter when you're out and about.

        If you see an animal left out in the cold, please speak to its owner, or notify your local police or animal welfare agency! Difficult as it may be, when talking to neglectful pet owners, don't be accusatory or belligerent. Get your point across conversationally, if you can, and in a friendly manner. Ignorance is curable by education.

        Have fun in the snow with your pet. Just don't stay out there too long. (And no hot chocolate for dogs when you come inside, either!)
 

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