Cold weather has set in for a while across the country, and we’re sure your families are bundling up quite well already. You’ve got the warm drinks, warm fireplaces, warm sweaters…and fortunately your pets come with built-in sweaters as well! Yet it’s important to keep their health in mind during those colder months and know what steps you can take to keep them safe and sprightly. This is especially important for dogs who spend more time outdoors, needing exercise or to use the bathroom. Cats tend to seek warm shelter inside when the temperatures drop, but those who prowl outdoors might also apply here.
So what can you do to help your dogs enjoy the winter weather and stay physically active without being threatened by the chilly season?
First, consider taking them in for a vet checkup once or twice during the winter. Some illnesses or joint conditions in particular can be made worse by regular exposure to the cold. Even if you get a regular annual checkup, it may help them stay more comfortable and active if you know the winter is a time to pay particular attention to their condition.
Second, know your pets individual limits. Every dog is going to react to winter times differently, even if they’re perfectly healthy otherwise. This will have to do with their overall size, body fat levels, the thickness of their fur, and more. If you have smaller dogs, they may be able to run around more indoors, limiting their need to go outside at all. Even for larger dogs, though, you might shorten the length of their walks or times at the dog park just so they don’t develop a sensitivity.
Third, outdoors time should be limited overall. Many people have bought into the idea that dog and cats are more resistant to colder weather than people–that their coats and padded paws shield them from the main negative effects. However, dogs and cats are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia. Certain breed have certainly developed the ability to withstand the cold, but even they will suffer from it if left outdoors too long.
Lastly, whenever your pet does spend any time outdoors in the winter, whether on a walk or tromping through the snowy yard, be sure to inspect them when they come back indoors. Wipe down their paws to remove snow and ice and inspect the pads for potential damage. Not only does this help reduce injury, but people use more chemicals such as antifreeze and other toxic substances in the winter that can be spread along snowy paths and icy roads.
Does your dog or cat enjoy getting out in the snow or do they prefer to spend most winter days curled up by the fireplace? What do you do to help them stay active during cold months…while also staying safe from the chill?
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