- If you and your dog spend a lot of times outdoors in areas near hunters, make sure you dress the part. An orange coat or jacket for you and an orange vest or bandana for your dog will help make you more visible.
Dealing with the Cold
- Once the temperature drops below 20 degrees it’s time to bring your pet indoors. When they are out, make sure they are not exposed to the cold for extended periods of time. Be aware that the wind chill effects your pet just like it affects you.
- Shorter haired dogs or dogs acclimated to warmer climates may need a coat to stay comfortable when it gets cold outside.
- When your dog is outdoors, make sure they have access to adequate shelter at all times. Dog houses should be positioned or designed such that wind does not blow through the door into the house.
- If your pet is outdoors, make sure they always have access to fresh water. If the temperature drops below freezing, you will need a heater for their water bowl. Snow is not an acceptable substitute!
- When your pet is indoors, make sure they have a warm, dry spot that is away from drafts. Tile floors and uncarpeted areas may become cold and uncomfortable.
- If you have a long haired pet, make sure you keep them groomed and free of matts and tangles. While long hair will act as an insulator, it loses its insulating properties when it becomes matted.
- If your pet has long hair on its feet or in between their pads, you may want to have your groomer cut that hair short, so it does not accumulate snow when your pet is outdoors.
- If your pet is out in the cold a great deal, you may want to increase the amount you feed them, as they will be expending additional calories in order to stay warm.
- If your pet gets wet in the rain or snow, dry them off with a towel when they come back inside.
- If your pet has been walking on areas that have been treated with salt or any deicer, wipe their feet and pads with a damp cloth. You may want to consider using one of the pet safe products for melting ice, such as Morton® Safe-T-Pet® or SafePaws, both available at Green Acres.
- Leaving your pet in a car can be just as problematic in the winter time as it is in the summer. If you leave the motor running, always leave a window partially open in case you have an exhaust leak.
- Be careful if your pet has access to frozen ponds or streams. They can slip and fall in or the ice can break and they can fall in.
- Crusty snow and ice can have sharp edges which can cut the skin and pads of some of the thinner skinned breeds.
Other Seasonal Hazards
- Antifreeze, which often collects on driveways and roadways, is highly poisonous. Although it smells and tastes good to your pet, it can be lethal. Consider a less toxic antifreeze such as Peak Sierra Antifreeze.
- Be very careful of supplemental heating sources, especially those with a flame. Fireplaces and portable heaters can severely burn your pet. Make sure all fireplaces have screens and keep portable heaters out of reach.
- Make sure your wood is stacked securely so that your pet cannot cause it to fall over.
- Be aware that cats often will crawl into an engine compartment of a vehicle to keep warm. Slap your hood before starting your car in the morning.
- Like people, pets seem to be more susceptible to illnesses in the winter. Do make sure to take your pet to a veterinarian if you see any suspicious symptoms.
- Don't use over-the-counter medications on your dog without consulting a veterinarian.
Dealing with the Holidays
- While many of us enjoy the holidays they are also usually stressful. Your pets can feel this stress as well, especially if they are not used to the frantic activity and houseful of guests that often accompany the holidays. Make sure your pet has a quiet comfortable hideaway if they choose to abstain from holiday festivities.
- Pets do not make good holiday gifts, especially if the person receiving the gift is not aware of it. If you want to get a pet related gift for someone get them a book on selecting a pet, or a leash or toy for the pet to come.
- Many holiday plants such as holly, mistletoe and poinsettias are poisonous to pets. Make sure they are someplace where your pet cannot get to them.
- Be cautious about where you leave holiday gifts, especially those with food inside. A misplaced box of chocolates can kill a dog.
- Candy and other holiday treats sweetened with Xylitol can also be fatal when pets ingest them.
- Keep lights off the lower branches of your holiday tree where your pet can get to them.
- Make sure all electrical cords for holiday lights and decorations are located where your pet will not become entangled in them or attempt to chew on them.
- Avoid using edible ornaments on your tree.
- Tinsel can be very attractive to dogs and cats and can also be fatal if ingested.
- Dogs don’t always enjoy meeting new people or the frenetic activity that often comes with any holiday gathering. It’s a good time to for you to do a quick review of canine body language and to share it with your guests. A great way to do so is with these two links from Dr. Sophia Yin’s website: Free Poster: How to Correctly Greet a Dog - http://info.drsophiayin.com/how-to-correctly-greet-a-dog-free-poster/ and Free Poster: Body Language of Fear in Dogs - http://info.drsophiayin.com/free-poster-on-body-language-in-dogs/