Cold Weather Pet Care

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 ""cat-safety-check.""

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.

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