After teasing us with warm weather well into December, Mother Nature has decided to send us winter after all. It officially begins this Friday, December 22, but anyone living near Lake Elmo, Minnesota can see that it’s already here. Nonetheless, this is the day chosen as Keep Pets Safe in Winter Day by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty (ASPCA) to Animals. The organization hopes to highlight some winter safety tips that pet owners might not have considered otherwise.
ASPCA Recommendations for Winter Pet Safety
As a pet owner, you know that your dog or cat should spend less time outside when the temperature is below freezing or the wind is cold and blowing. However, you may not realize that you need to supervise your pets around common winter products such as pellets used to melt ice. These contain chlorine and salt that could become lodged in your pet’s paw pads and cause a painful infection.
Anti-freeze presents a safety hazard as well since your pet may lap it up thinking that it’s water. Be sure to store it on an out-of-reach shelf in the garage and wipe up any spills on the driveway immediately. Some other things that the ASPCA advises for pet owners include:
- Since your pet can feel disoriented by the ice and snow and not recognize surroundings normally familiar to him, be sure to keep him on a leash while outdoors
- Get a microchip for your pet if you don’t already have one
- Although she might protest, put booties on your pet’s paws and a coat over her body when you need to be outside in very cold weather
- If you use rodenticide products to keep pests from entering your house to escape the cold, make sure you place them in a location inaccessible to your pet
- Look under the wheel wells and the hood of your car before starting it as an animal may be hiding there to keep warm
How to Know if Your Pet Has Developed Frostbite or Hypothermia
It’s a common misconception that animals can stay warmer in the winter than people can because they have a permanent fur coat. Cats and dogs don’t have as much body fat to keep themselves warm and they’re much smaller in size. They’re usually not wearing a heavy winter coat, boots, gloves, a hat, and a scarf either. A companion animal can develop frostbite or hypothermia quickly for these reasons. Uncontrollable shivering is often your first clue that something is wrong. You should also look for the following:
- General weakness and fatigue
- A bright red or black appearance to body tissues such as the gums
- Icicle formation on your pet's body
Please contact Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo for an immediate evaluation if you notice any of these symptoms.
We hope that you and your pets stay safe and warm this winter season. Remember that dogs still need to go outside to exercise and go to the bathroom no matter how cold it gets. As long as you remember the safety rules we’ve just outlined, everyone should do just fine.
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