The winter season is an amazing season for romping in the snow, snuggling next to the fireplace, and sipping some hot chocolate. This time of year though comes with concerns for your daily life, and for the daily life of your pet as well. Keep in mind the following tips for your animal family and enjoy the season!
Outdoors with Cats and Dogs
- Many of the same dangers to humans also affect our pets in extreme temperatures. Dogs and cats will get frostbite or hypothermia if outside too long. If they require outdoor activity, they need to be monitored. For smaller pets, consider clothing and sweaters to keep them warm. Smaller dogs cannot process bitterly cold air in their lungs, so limit their outside visits.
- If your pet must be outside for a period of time, give them proper shelter. It should be wind-proof and have plenty of bedding for the animal to curl up and stay warm. Make sure they have access to food and unfrozen water.
- Ice melting chemicals are great for removing ice from sidewalks, but many contain chemicals that are harmful to your pet. Dogs collect it on their paws on walks and lick it off when they return inside. Even this small amount can cause vomiting, diarrhea, salivation, tremors, excessive thirst, seizures, and even death. Rinse and wipe off dogs’ paws when they enter the home, and also their fur if they played in snow likely to have ice melt in it.
- Antifreeze is an important chemical for keeping cars and trucks running through the winter. It has a sweet smell and attracts animals looking for a drink, but it is deadly and kills tens of thousands of animals a year. Keep antifreeze out of the home; keep it properly stored either in a garage or shed where pets do not have access to it. When outside with your pets, keep an eye on them so they do not wander into areas where this chemical could be in easy reach.
- Be aware of stray cats in your neighborhood. They are very resourceful in finding warm places to sleep. They find places under decks, patios, and even in the engines of cars. Cats can be injured or killed by the engine when you turn on the vehicle. To scare them to safety, give a knock on the vehicle hood before you turn the engine on.
Indoors with Cats and Dogs
- If you use space heaters, make sure they are in proper working order, and keep your pet a safe distance from heaters so they do not burn their fur and skin.
- Check your pet’s bedding area. Is it at a good temperature? Keep their sleeping areas away from drafty doors and windows. Give extra blankets as needed.
Lizards, Birds, Small Animals
There are other amazing pets we may have in our homes. Even though they do not journey outside, these pets still have needs that shift with the seasons. For all pets, keep their enclosures away from drafty windows and doors.
- The temperature of your reptile’s enclosure is very important. They are cold-blooded, so the temperature must be maintained at a certain level for the animal to digest food and other vital functions. Keep a spot with a UV light for daytime simulation. This is a great spot for your pet to warm itself and digest its food. Reptiles also need a shady spot in their terrarium for rest. Do not add an additional lamp to make heat for your reptile, it is important to use other non-light-creating options.
- Birds originate from temperate and tropical climates. They need temperatures above 65 degrees for their immune system to function well. Place a towel or blanket over the cage in the evenings to trap heat. Do not use fireplace fires, kerosene or other gas heaters to supplement heat for a bird. Birds are very sensitive to the fumes made by these, and they can get sick and die. Also, do not run small electric space heaters for birds. Many of these have a non-stick coating within the heater that produces fumes toxic to your bird.
- For reptiles and birds, maintaining proper moisture is important . The winter months have less humidity in the air, especially if your home has central heating. Be sure to mist your pet to maintain an appropriate moisture level for them. Also, consider getting a home or room humidifier to supplement their moisture needs.
If you maintain an outdoor pond, please check our article on Pet Care Tip—Winterizing Your Pond.