Protecting Your Pets Over Winter

Winter has arrived on our doorsteps, and this brings some extra risks for our pets.  They can’t always look out for themselves, so it’s on you to help them make it safe through the colder months.

  1. Prevent poisoning – There are all kinds of new risks this time of year.  Baked goods (and their raw components), antifreeze, salt, and prescription medications from visiting relatives are just a few.  Make sure to properly store items that might make your pets curious, have a talk with your relatives about keeping their medications locked up safe, and don’t let your pets near the kitchen during baking time.
  2. The bitter cold – It should go without saying that pets these days are not used to the harsh conditions their ancestors may have braved eons ago.  If you won’t stand outside in a light sweatshirt and pants for more than 10-15 minutes, imagine how they might feel overnight. Let’s bring the pets indoors, or if it’s not possible, make sure they have warm shelter out of the wind and with a water bowl that won’t freeze.
  3. Slip & falls – Underneath all that snow might be a sheet of ice. Great if you want to skate in your yard but not if you’re a senior dog or a hyper younger dog where a slip can mean injury to joints or ligaments. I suggest investing in some boots for your dogs and keep them on a shorter leash (no retractables) when outside.
  4. Cats are curious – If you have any festive holiday decorations in the house, know that cats may be tempted to try that 9 lives theory. Candles and stoves can cause significant burns. Electric lights, especially ones that blink, might entice your cat to attach or chew them, which, if they get the cord, could lead to electrocution.  Try setting up your cat an area with equally enticing objects (toys, catnip, cat trees) that they can focus their curious play and aggression on to stay safe.
  5. Battle of the bulge – It’s safe to say that a lot of pets may not get as much exercise outdoors, especially if it’s -10 C or colder outside.  This inevitably leads to some weight gain. Try cutting back on the treat and take out about 20% of the food for indoor pets to make up for the inactivity, and they’ll be less likely to gain that winter weight.

Written by Dr. R. LLera, DVM

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