Our four-legged family members are just that – family. Many believe that dogs and other furry friends are as accustomed to living outdoors as wild animals, but that could not be further from the truth. The term “domesticated” is there for a reason…and because they are domesticated, they are not equipped to survive in extreme temperatures or even hunt successfully on their own.
We’ve all seen the heartbreaking images of pets shivering outside while chained to a doghouse on commercials for the ASPCA; many of us turn the channel, but the images never fade away. The falling temperatures that occur at this time of year are not to be taking lightly. Here are a few things to keep in mind to keep your beloved pets safe during the winter months.
Grooming – While it can be tempting to shave your dog and alleviate some of the vacuuming inside your home, make sure you talk to your groomer about your dog’s coat. Some coats are not meant to be shaved due to the nature of the undercoat. Especially in the winter, your dog’s fur is the only protection from the chilly air outside…and a dog sweater certainly won’t do as good a job.
Bathing – Try to limit the number of bathes your pet has during this time of year. Every time you bathe your pet, you remove the oil his or her skin makes which can lead to dry skin when the air is also dry. If you must, try using a moisturizing shampoo.
Walking – Make sure you protect your dog’s paws if you plan to do any extended walking in the snow. Their feet are not used to the icy snow and can get too cold leading to dryness and cracking of the pads.
Snow Preparation – Before a snowfall, a salt solution is often put on the roads and sidewalks. This solution is not good for your animal’s paws…it can become stuck between their toes and, in extreme situations, can cause burns similar to chemical burns.
Eating – Your pet may need more kibble during the winter months due to the energy it requires to maintain a warm body temperature. Maybe that’s why people enjoy some extra indulging this time of year…hmm?!
Staying Warm – It is just as important for your pet to stay warm this time of year as it is for you! The rule of thumb is similar to babies…if you are warm, your pet is warm; if you are cold, your pet probably is, too!
Use your head when it comes to pet safety during the winter. Similar to the summer months, the car is not a safe place for any type of extreme temperature. If you have a dog that normally sleeps in a doghouse outside, move them in during high and low temperatures…even the garage or the basement is a better option than outdoors. Our pets count on us for safety and well being…so we should all care for them the way we would care for any beloved family member!