View Full Version : "Cold Weather Care"

June 9th 06, 07:45 AM

Cold Weather Care

In many parts of the country, we're winterizing our homes as we prepare
for winter's coldest days. But what about our pets? Are we
"winterizing" them to meet the challenges of harsh winter weather?

Proper nourishment is a prime consideration. Well-nourished pets,
particularly those housed outdoors, are better prepared to withstand
the rigors of winter. Outdoor pets normally need more food to generate
enough energy to cope with the cold. This is easily accomplished by
feeding a high-quality nutritionally complete and balanced dog or cat
food. You don't need any supplements unless your veterinarian
recommends them for a health condition. If this is the case, chances
are your pet should not be housed outside.

Along with a good diet, outdoor pets need fresh water. They cannot eat
snow in sufficient amounts to prevent dehydration. Offer your pet fresh
water several times during the day. Electrically-heated water bowls are
available but they must be installed safely and monitored regularly.

Dogs housed indoors may require less food in order to maintain good
body condition. They tend to be less active and expend less energy.
Please continue their regular walks and play periods. Short-haired or
geriatric dogs or those with health problems need the protective warmth
of a dog sweater or jacket during outside jaunts.

If you notice a weight gain or loss, adjust food portions accordingly.
If you have questions about your pet's body condition, check with your

Outdoor pets need housing to hide from severe cold. Your pet's shelter
should be insulated, elevated , protected from prevailing winds and
watertight. Because they use their own body to keep warm, the shelter
should be small enough to preserve the pet's body heat. Bedding should
be kept clean and dry.

An outdoor cat may find the shelter of a parked car appealing. Before
starting a car, bang on the hood or raise it and conduct a

I hope you make "paw checks" a regular part of your winter care
routine. Remove packed snow or ice from between the toes of your pet's
paw pads and wipe the paws thoroughly. Otherwise, moisture can be
trapped and cause sores. Salt and other de-icers spread on sidewalks
and roads may also irritate the pads and cause them to bleed.

Dampness is a winter danger. Dry your pet if it gets wet and do all you
can to keep it dry.

Another danger is antifreeze which is toxic to pets. They are attracted
to it because of its sweet taste and lap it up when it is not properly
disposed of. Store antifreeze where pets cannot reach it. Anti-freeze
poisoning requires immediate veterinary treatment.

You may find your indoor pet experiencing dry skin and shedding. This
is usually the result of low humidity. Frequent brushing helps remove
dead hairs, skin and stimulates oil glands.

Although a fire in the fireplace is cozy, it may create problems for
pets. Cats luxuriate in its warmth. However, if they lie too close to
the fire, they are in danger of hot cinders or sparks. Fireplace heat
also contributes to dry skin. Fumes from the fireplace may cause
respiratory problems in some pets. Keep fireplaces screened and train
pets to keep a safe distance.

Sometimes a dog or cat may accidentally be left outside or become lost
during a heavy snowstorm. Frostbite may result. Signs are flushed and
reddened tissues, white or grayish tissues, evidence of shock and
scaliness of skin and possible shedding of dead skin. The ears, paw
pads and tail are more frequently affected.

Let's hope your pet never experiences frostbite. If the unthinkable
happens, please remember frozen tissues should never be rubbed. This
causes additional tissue damage. Prompt veterinary treatment is needed.
If this is not possible, warm the affected area rapidly by immersing in
warm, never hot, water or by using warm, moist towels that are changed
frequently. As soon as the affected tissues become flus hed,
discontinue warming. Gently dry the affected tissues and lightly cover
with a clean, dry, non-adhering bandage.

A dog or cat who has suffered from frostbite should be protected from
exposure to the cold. Frostbitten tissues are more susceptible to
repeated freezing.

A final thought
Puppies, kittens and geriatric pets are especially vulnerable during
harsh winter weather. Please give them extra attention. If you have any
concerns about your pet's well-being and health during the cold months
ahead, consult your veterinarian.