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Pet Winter Safety: top 10 veterinary resolutions:happy, healthy pets

Aug 17

Categories: Blog

When the temps drop, companion animal casualties go up. These hot tips will help keep things cool this season:

  • 1. Keep your cat inside. Outdoor, felines can freeze, contract infectious diseases, or become lost, stolen, injured or killed.
  • 2. Antifreeze is lethal for dogs and cats. The sweet taste is attractive to pets. Be sure to clean up any spills from your vehicle, and use products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Check garages and outdoor parking spots and clean up that bright yellow green fluid.
  • 3. More dogs are lost during the winter season than any other, so make sure your pet wears identification tags and has a microchip. The microchip may not be a GPS tracker (yet) but if your dog is found most veterinarians and all animal shelters can scan them for vital information which will get them back home to you. If your pet will be exposed to snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm- they can lose their bearings and familiar scents and become lost.
  • 4. Wipe off your dog's legs and under belly when they come inside. Dogs can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking and cleaning their own paws, and the paw pads can become cut and may bleed from snow or encrusted ice.
  • 5. When you bathe your dog, dry them completely before taking them outdoors even in moderate temperatures. Keep their coats clean and free of mats which can be painful and entrap foreign materials such as sticks, acorns, and twigs.
  • 6. Never leave your pet alone in a car (whether it's cold or hot outdoors). The vehicle can become so cold, causing the animal to freeze to death.
  • 7. Puppies do not tolerate the cold and may be difficult to housetrain. You may opt for an elimination station such as a wee-wee pad or dog litter box (not the same as a cat litter box) which you can purchase at PetSmart or PetCo or on line. If you dog is sensitive to the cold due to age or illness or breed type, take them outdoors for limited times just to relieve themselves. Remember, if its too cold for you to be outdoors properly dressed it's too cold for your pets.
  • 8. If your dog spends alot of time outdoors, increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him and his fur in tip-top shape. Make sure her water source doesn't freeze either as many pets will not automatically have access to other resources of clean fresh water. (no eating the yellow snow).
  • 9. Before you start your car, bang on the hood of the car to alert outdoor cats who sometimes sleep underneath for warmth and can be injured by fan belts and other moving parts.
  • 10. Make sure your pet has a warm place to sleep, off the floor, and away from drafts.

 And a few other important resolutions for 2013 include:

  • Make sure your pet receives a complete, comprehensive examination every year from your pet's vet. The annual physical examination and evaluation of lifestyle, life stage, life expectancy is the most overlooked pet health need, today. Most people take their pet to the veterinarian when a health problem already exists or only for routine vaccinations.  Preventative medications, protective vaccinations,  and early detection of subtle changes found by your professional veterinary team can identify disease risks that are key in protecting and treating your pets.
  • Design a diet and exercise plan to meet your pet's specific needs. Obesity leads to serious dog and cat problems such as sugar diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, digestive upset and more. Exercise is important, and your pet will only exercise if there is motivation to do so. It's very hard to take that long walk when the rain or snow is pelting away. Ask your pet's vet for ideas for in home environmental enrichment that can substitute for this inactivity. At Animal Health Care we have an in- water (about 90 degrees sauna warm) treadmill just for this need in our active pets who can't exercise due to inclement weather! As your veterinarian, we can consider what stage of life your pet is in, the amount of activity your pet enjoys, and the time of year to outline a specific plan with goals.  The right kind of diet and physical activity plan can add to the quality of your pet's life.
  • Make your home a safe environment. Unfortunately, making your home pet-safe is often overlooked. Pet-proofing your home can lower the risk of serious pet accidents. There are several potential dangers of which pet owners should be aware. Poisons in the home that can seriously injure or even kill your pet include but are not limited to some kinds of plants (dieffenbachia, philodendron, hyacinth, mistletoe and poinsettia), antifreeze, and many medications. Electrical cords are hazards both to be caught up in and when chewed into. Keep harmful objects out of your pet's reach. A little prevention may be just enough to avoid a tragedy and a visit to the animal ER.

As a responsible pet owner, you can take a few simple steps that will go a long way toward keeping your pet health and happy. And, don't forget to ask your pet's vet: we're just a phone call, email or tweet away...