Puppy It's Cold Outside - Winter Weather and Your Pet

Patapsco Valley View

Volume 21                                       Winter 2015

Puppy It's Cold Outside!

    After last year I think we all realize just how cold it can get here in the Mid Atlantic. Unfortunately trying to explain that to our furry children can be difficult. When it snows your dog may jump at the door and act like your human six year old barking, “Let me get out there Dad (or Mom)! I’ve got to play!” As much as you may enjoy an hour of quiet bliss while your ‘children’ are outside, you still need to be a responsible parent. Cold weather can be dangerous!
    Snow is beautiful but it is cold and wet. Remember when you let your dog or cat outside in the snow… your pet is not wearing a weather resistant parka and snow boots. That snow can melt on the long hairs of your golden and then refreeze into little ice balls close to the skin. It can also pack into the tufts of hair between the toes and cause icy irritation to your pet’s pads.
    Cats are less likely to want to travel into the frozen beyond, but they may still have a spot where they like to potty outside (some cats prefer the rose garden mulch to the litter pan). If at all possible see if you can keep your cat’s schedule close to normal and clear a path to their favorite spot so that they aren‘t forced to walk through high snow or ice to get to ‘their‘ spot. Most cats will actually decide (once the door is open for a few moments and all your heat is escaping) that they’d prefer to forsake outside and they will settle for the litter pan instead. If your cats do want to go outside in inclement weather, make sure that they have a dry, safe, and warm place to retreat. Put a cat door into your garage, or use a dog house or cat carrier filled with straw and old towels on the covered front or back porch. But be on the lookout for the forlorn crying of the family cat who you forgot to let back inside.
    Dogs, for the most part, are different, especially the larger breeds. They seem to enjoy a certain amount of cold weather and romping in the snow. So it‘s up to you to keep them safe during the frigid weather.

     Don’t leave any pet outside unattended since cold weather can sneak up on your pet and although they are wearing a fur coat, that does not protect them from hypothermia, or frostbite of the ears, nose, and toes. Make sure that your dog has a good dog house or place where he can ‘hunker’ down in a warm bed away from the wind and weather. The best place for this is inside your home.
    Now, one of the problems with being stranded by a winter full of snowstorms and frigid temperatures is that your pet becomes sedentary, or bored. Continue to walk your dog during cold weather, maybe not the five miles that you’re used to, but enough distance and time that your pet is kept in shape and relaxed, (a bored pet is a ticking time bomb of destructive or annoying habits.) While walking your pet choose a safe place since many sidewalks get icy if they aren’t cleared properly, and roads are just plain dangerous in bad weather. You might want to clear an area in your yard to play catch with a ball during bad weather.
    Cats need exercise too. A great way to play with your cat is to get a laser pointer. Just DON’T aim the laser in the pet’s face!
    After letting your pet outside remember to offer clean water to drink, as cold air is dryer and tends to make everyone more thirsty. Wipe down your pet with a towel afterwards, and pay close attention to your pet’s paws. Clear away any ice and try to dry the areas between the pads.
    Remember, your want to continue using your pet’s tick control product. Ticks in Maryland are very cold resistant and continue to pose a threat of Lyme Disease and other dangerous diseases.

    Have a safe winter season, and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call us. We’re here to help you keep your pet healthy and happy.