Well, the cool weather is finally starting now that it’s getting to be mid-November in Houston. We all know the warm weather well down here, but even so it does get chilly for a little while and our pets need to stay warm. So what is your plan for the holiday season? To help you out we’ve compiled tips from humane organizations in one place, plus cold weather products from local retailers.
Get a check up. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, our pets should have an annual check up and winter is a great time to do so. Drop by your favorite vet to see how your pet’s health is doing. Many medical conditions, such as arthritis, may worsen during cold weather. Knowing your pet’s medical status can help you anticipate problems you may encounter with the weather shift.
Create an emergency plan. Many people have emergency stores of water or food in case of an emergency, but we may forget about our animals’ plan. Keep enough food, water, and medical supplies for 5 days in case of power outages or storms.
Ask yourself, “Am I cold?” Our furry family members have the same feelings we do, any they haven’t got any shoes on out there! If it’s too cold for you, it may be too cold for your pet. Be extra careful with short haired pets as they have less protection from the weather.
Consider dressing up! Okay so you’ve got a doberman and you’re worried he might look a little silly in a sweater… well that might be true (it’s just your opinion!) however, your animals can feel cold just like we do. As silly as it may or may not be, it will keep your pet warm and cozy so he can get exercise out in the open air with you and he won’t be so hesitant to go potty outside.
Out door cats should be brought inside whenever possible, or provided with adequate shelter during the cold months. This means an enclosed space that is safe from wind, rain, and other elements. Leaving the garage cracked for your kitty is a good idea if it is always dry inside, just be sure to provide some warm snuggly spots by piling up blankets or pillows for your furry buddies. A note of caution: although it may sound nice, don’t use electric blankets or other electric heating components as they may catch fire while unattended and cause injury or worse. Our pets are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia, remember that no pets should be left outside for long periods of time in below freezing weather.
Always check under the hood, during the cold months many cats seek the warmest spots. This can sometimes land them in a dangerous situation – under the hood of your car. Tap on the hood a few times before you hop in, allowing any stowaways to awaken and escape.
Dry off before going outside if you recently bathed your pet. Don’t let him or her out in the cold if they are wet. Just like us humans they can be very uncomfortable or become ill.
Clean your paws when you come inside. Many cold weather tip lists mention salt for melting ice, but we don’t have to worry to much about that here in the South. However, we do often anticipate a rainy winter so be aware that your pets may be more prone to pick up road chemicals on their feet. Be extra careful and wipe your pets toes off when they come inside from a walk.
Don’t leave doggy in the car, even though it’s cool out, it may not be safe! This is particularly true in colder areas where is it snowing or freezing.
Speaking of potty problems… According to the ASPCA, “Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.”
Feed your pet more protein during cool weather months, as you may be spending more time outdoors and doing physical activities together. This will keep him energized and able to maintain homeostasis. This is not to say that you should over feed or “help” your pet gain weight for the winter. Although that may work in the short term, long term health risks are not worth it! Consult your veterinarian before making diet changes.
Coolants and antifreeze are deadly poisons for all animals. You should always be careful with chemicals your pets may come into contact with, and the same goes for coolants and antifreeze. Always thoroughly clean any spills from products containing propylene glycol. Visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center website more information.
Find a better spot for pets. If your indoor pet’s bed or kennel is near a window or on cool flooring, you may consider moving their spot to an area that is protected from drafts and other elements. If you’re not sure where your pet would like to be you can provide more than one option for ample warming opportunities.
Watch your pet’s behavior. The AVMA has this to say about cool weather health, “If your pet is whining, shivering, seems anxious, slows down or stops moving, seems weak, or starts looking for warm places to burrow, get them back inside quickly because they are showing signs of hypothermia.” Bring your pet inside, warm them up quickly, and contact your veterinarian.