Keep Them Warm and Safe This Winter With These Tips

​Cold weather is upon us, and while there are many things to enjoy about winter, it also poses some hazards to our pets. Fun activities, like skiing and snowshoeing, are shared with our pets to help keep them active during the winter. Below are some tips to help you and your pet enjoy Jack Frost’s wintery games.

1. Wellness exams: Senior pets, and those with chronic medical conditions, benefit from a vet check-up before the cold weather gets into full swing. Conditions, like arthritis and heart disease, could worsen with the cold. Very old and very young pets are more susceptible to cold temperatures. Here is a link for winter veterinarian recommendations: https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Cold-weather-pet-safety.aspx

2. Grow out coats: A longer coat will keep your pet warmer this winter. If your pet has a long-haired coat, take them to get it brushed or blown out regularly as mats can affect their ability to regulate their body temperatures when outside.

3. Keep cats and small dogs indoors: Cats and small dogs may not be able to tolerate extreme cold as well as larger breed dogs. Accompany small dogs when they need to go outside. Always wipe off your pet’s paws when coming in to wash away any harmful substances (like rock salt).

4. Check under hoods and wheel wells: Underneath vehicle hoods and on top of tires are prime winter shelters for cats. Give your vehicle a quick check before starting it to prevent an unfortunate accident.

5. Be aware of antifreeze: Antifreeze is a highly toxic substance that, unfortunately, smells and tastes delicious to pets. Ingestion can lead to permanent kidney disease and happens quickly. If your pet has gotten into antifreeze, immediately call your veterinarian. Here is a link showing you what symptoms to look for and how to reduce the risk of antifreeze poisoning: http://www.vspn.org/Library/misc/antifreeze_safety__pets_1101.pdf

6. Watch your pets around water: While water is a fun activity for your pet in the summer, it can be dangerous in the winter. Rivers and big lakes like Superior, are especially dangerous in the winter. Shelf ice looks solid, but in reality, there is a gap of air between the ice and water below. The ice is unable to bear weight without water supporting it and both you and your pet can fall through. Shelf ice occurs along shore but can extend farther out, the gap of air can range from a few inches to a foot.

7. Wear proper attire: This not only goes for you but your pets as well! Sweaters and jackets are an excellent (and adorable!) way to keep pets warm this winter. Companies are making a huge variety of coats and boots and you are sure to find ones that fit properly. Mares-Z-Doats in Marquette has a great selection and you can bring your dog right in to the store to try on jackets. They also carry Mushers Secret, which is wonderful for keeping snow out from between your dogs toes.

Hopefully these tips help you and your pet enjoy the winter wonderland safely. As always, the staff at Northern Veterinary Associates place top priority on the wellness of your pet and are happy to address any issues that may arise this winter.