Winter is coming….a phrase made famous by Game of Thrones and one we know all to well in Northern Ontario. I for one love winter and all the fun it has to offer in the way of sports, beauty and cuddling up with a good book. Lots of pets love winter too! As owners, we want to keep them warm and safe all winter long. We’ve created a list of the top 5 tips for doing just that….
- Never leave your pet outside including in a car for long periods. We tend to hear a lot about leaving pets in the heat more but cold can be just as dangerous, especially for small dogs. Cold metal can act like a refrigeration unit causing a drop in your pet’s temperature.
- Watch out for snowbanks. Pets off leash can dash out on the road and get hit by a vehicle as they are hard to see until the last minute if they are hidden by a snowbank. White dogs are especially at risk. Your pet should be on leash any time they are near a road.
- Bang the hood of your car before you drive off. Cats who are outdoors in the winter love the warmth of a car engine. It can be tragic if you don’t see the cat (which you probably won’t) and you drive off. A little warning thump will let the sleeping cat know it’s time to wake up and move on.
- Watch your pet’s paws. Walks on winter days can be a lot of fun but you should rinse your pet’s foot pads after a walk especially on city roads which can have salt build up which can burn their feet. If you notice any cracking, consider putting dog booties or talk to our vet about a protective ointment. Trimming the hair between their toes and around the pads is also a good idea to prevent snow and ice from sticking to the fur.
- Keep a lid on toxins. Some toxins are more specific to winter. Antifreeze, a staple any Northern Ontario winter, tastes sweet to a pet which will entice them to lap it up. It is extremely toxic and can be very harmful even in small amounts. Road salt is another toxin to pets that can be fatal if ingested. As discussed above, another very important reason to wipe your pets paws is to avoid them licking off the salt. Winter brings Christmas and Christmas brings a whole bunch of potential toxins for pets. Poinsettias, lilies, chocolate, xylitol, bones, small toys, candles, tree tinsel, holiday lights and ornaments are all potentially dangerous for your pet.
The key to having a fun winter is being prepared and aware…prevention is the best medicine!