Pet column: Keep pets warm, safe during cold winter months

Published: Sunday, December 29, 2013 at 17:00 PM.

Wow, has it been or what? Originally from Missouri I never considered temps in the 30s that cold, but now that I’ve turned all soft and gooey, it sure feels that way! During the dip in temps we need to remember that even though our pets have built in fur coats, it’s still not always enough. It never hurts to brush up on cold weather facts about your dog that will save you and them distress or worse. Your dog’s immune system can be compromised by cold weather, and they get sick easier in the winter than any other season; and it’s up to us to protect them.

We should always make sure our pets have a warm place to reside out of the way of drafts or cold floors. Blankets, a bed or a pillow (at minimum) on the floor will keep a chill away at night. Short haired dogs benefit from a sweater or light jacket as well. Keep in mind dogs lose body heat through ears and foot pads, so a blanket is ideal. They are usually good at nesting and figuring the rest out when proper supplies are provided.

Leaving a pet in a car in the winter is as much of a no-no as it is in the summer. An engine running produces a carbon monoxide risk and an engine off leads to a chilling or hypothermic pet. Just don’t risk it.

We should dry feet after a walk in the cold, moist grass as it can create tiny cuts or cracked pads if not dried thoroughly. Petroleum jelly is good to soften and to use as a protecting barrier. If your dog is long haired, make sure paw pad hair is trimmed to avoid trapping moisture.

Holly, mistletoe and poinsettias are pet poison. Also, tree trimmings such as tinsel can obstruct delicate intestines should they be ingested.

If a dog lives outdoors, even with warm shelter, they need more calories in the winter to regulate their temperature. Same goes with the trusty pooch that you walk or jog with in the cold.

We should keep an eye out for antifreeze in driveways as this is attractive to dogs in smell and taste and is lethal. Most ice slippage products are harmful as well.

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