It’s the most wonderful time of the year. As temperatures drop and snowflakes fall, it’s hard for anyone to resist the charm of winter. Pets are no exception—from puppies bounding through the snow to cats curling up in front of the fireplace for a nap, there’s no shortage of cold-weather creature comforts. But wintertime brings with it special health concerns for your furry friends. In this article we’ll go over ways to keep your pets safe, happy and healthy this winter.
Protect Your Pet’s Paws
Cats and dogs are lucky in that they’re almost entirely covered in warm, protective fur. Though it helps keep their bodies nice and toasty, fur unfortunately doesn’t grow on paw pads. The exposed skin of the paw pad is susceptible to damage from cold temperatures. Prolonged exposure to the cold (especially in combination with moisture from wet snow) can cause frostbite. If severe or untreated, frostbite can cause permanent nerve damage or even require amputation of the affected areas. Pale, blue or grey paw pads indicate frostbite.
The best way to prevent frostbite is to have your pets wear protective footwear when they go outside. Your pet may need a bit of time to adjust to wearing booties, but most get used to them fairly quickly. However, some pets simply refuse to wear shoes. In these cases, the next best option is applying a protective coating, such as sled dog wax, to your pet’s paws on a regular basis.
Tread Carefully with Salt
It’s a fact of life in winter, where there’s snow, there’s ice. Most people deal with ice by melting it with de-icing salt. Though effective, this can be dangerous for pets. Ice melting salt is corrosive. It is also small enough to easily get wedged in between your pet’s toes, where it can heat up and cause burns and serious pain. If the animal then licks its paws, the salt can burn the tongue, mouth and throat too. Pet-safe ice melt products are widely available, but even a product labeled as pet-safe can still contain harmful components.
Choose an ice melt that’s free from salt and chloride, and check the packaging for warning labels. If there are warnings suggesting that skin contact with the product is harmful, it’s not safe for pets even if it claims to be. Public parks, roads and sidewalks are usually not treated with pet-safe ice melt as it is not cost-effective on a large scale. Have your pets wear booties on walks or, if this is not possible, wash their paws well with lukewarm water after each walk, making sure to check between the toes for salt granules.
Keep Household Pests at Bay
When it’s really cold outside, most people (and pets) just want to be inside. Unfortunately, this mindset is shared by pests as well. Bugs, rodents and snakes often seek refuge indoors during the winter. Aside from being nuisances, pests can have many detrimental effects on your pets, from itchy bites to contagious diseases to lower air quality. Thorough removal of these annoying, toxic intruders is best performed by pest control in Gilbert, AZ, or in other areas. An experienced specialist will analyze your home and eradicate the pests with a variety of techniques based on your location and the extent of the infestation. You and your pets will be much happier and healthier living in a pest-free home.
Bulking up Isn’t Bad
Keeping warm when it’s cold takes a lot of energy. If your pets seem hungrier and less energetic in the winter, it’s because they’re using up more calories than normal to maintain their body temperatures. Feed a little extra during the colder months to counteract the increased energy expenditure. Water intake is always important, but it’s especially vital in the winter. Dehydration can set in very rapidly when the air is dry, so make sure to provide your pets with plenty of water at all times.
There’s plenty of fun to be had this winter for you and your pet. By taking a few simple precautions, you can ensure that your furry friend will stay safe and healthy throughout the season and be able to enjoy all the exciting times that lie ahead.