It’s 10 degrees. Do you know where your pet is?


Dusty and Coco enjoy the warmth of human companionship on a cold winter day.

Dusty and Coco enjoy the warmth of human companionship on a cold winter day.

When it’s below freezing and the snow is blowing, the howling you hear outside had better be from the wind and not your pooch.

More and more our pets are considered part of the family. We are increasingly aware that they have needs that go beyond putting down a bowl of kibble and some water. Cat and dogs are social animals and if we interact with them for just a short time, it’s evident that they would rather be inside with us where its snug and warm.

Of course, some large working dogs such as Huskies and Newfoundlands may enjoy a good long romp in the snow, but your average pooch would probably be happy with a quick walk around the block. And cats, which are even more susceptible to outside hazards, should be kept inside at all times

Hazards abound during the winter, so keep the following tips in mind:

Car engines can provide warm, but dangerous, sanctuaries for homeless or not-so-homeless cats. If you’ve seen or if you suspect that there are strays in your neighborhood, bang on the hood of your car to sound an alert, then wait a few seconds to give the cat a chance to escape.

Antifreeze, with its sweet taste, is deadly. The most commonly uses antifreeze is made of ethylene glycol. Just two ounces can kill a dog; as little as one teaspoon is lethal to a cat by converting to oxalic acid and damaging the kidneys. Symptoms of antifreeze poisoning include excess salivation, vomiting, fatigue and convulsions. If you suspect that your pet has ingested antifreeze, contact your vet immediately (or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, 888-424-4357). He or she will induce vomiting, administer activated charcoal and fluids to flush out the kidneys.

A safer version is made with propylene gylcol under the Sierra label by Safe Brands. It’s about a dollar more per gallon than conventional antifreeze. However, it’s best to keep all such products away from pets.

Salt used to melt slick sidewalks and driveways is irritating to paws. A relatively new product on the market, Safe Paw Ice Melter claims to be pet friendly and environmentally friendly as well. It’s available at most pet supply stores and supermarkets, or call 800-783-7841.

Make sure you wipe off your dog’s or cat’s paws after exposure to salt and sand — before she has a chance to lick them. A good rubdown with a towel will absorb any rain, snow or ice. For small, short-coated pups, consider using a fleecie doggie jacket to keep them snug and warm. There are even special booties made fleece-like fabric. Such apparel is super popular today with items available such as jogging suits, hooties, fleece shirts, leg wraps, ponchos (with matching ones for humans), snow suits, raincoats, leather coats, faux shearling and faux mink.

A closed car in winter is just as hazardous as in the summer, acting like a refrigerator. The consequences are just as deadly.
When it’s truly bitter outside limit outside exposure for seniors and puppies to tinkle time.

If your pup is used to being outside, make sure he has an insulated dog house that is raised above the ground and large enough for him to sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to retain body heat. Cover the floor with hay or cedar shavings and extra blankets, as well. Don’t allow water bowls to freeze over and don’t use metal ones — your pet’s tongue could stick to it. Increase the amount of food you feed, especially protein — keeping warm is hard work. Better yet, keep him indoors when the weather turns bitter. Remember that dogs and cats thrive best with human companionship.

What’s better than being curled up in a comfy chair by a roaring fire with your favorite animal companion.

The one sure thing about winter in my own household is as the temperature decreases, the number of cats on the bed increases! King-sized bed anyone?

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About ExclusivelyCats
Sally Bahner is an expert in all aspects of cat care: Writer, consultant, speaker, instructor.

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