Be Aware Indoors
When it's cold outside, all too often it is also cold inside. A space heater or - if you're lucky - a fireplace is a great way to stay warm when temperatures plunge, but can also pose a risk for pets. Be sure not to leave fires or heaters unattended. If using a fireplace, be sure that the flue is open, allowing smoke to escape through the chimney. Clear out the charred remains after the fire has burnt out to prevent curious pets from ingesting ashes. And don't leave pets alone with any heat source, especially the elderly or those with impaired ambulation, to minimize the risk of burns.
Some dogs, especially larger breeds, find the cold air invigorating. However, jackets and sweaters are advisable for short-haired or hairless breeds and smaller dogs who may not be fully equipped to deal with outdoor winter temperatures. The best dog sweaters cover the chest and end at the tail. Outerwear for dogs is available in a variety of materials, although wool and fleece are the most common. If you live in a snowy area, water-resistant materials, such as the ones used for human parkas, may be better, so research alternatives before deciding on the right type of sweater or coat for your dog.
Pets that move about on sidewalks, driveways or streets run the risk of picking up rock salt, ice and other chemicals in their foot pads. To prevent irritation to your dog’s feet, consider getting him a set of boots. If you choose not to have your dog wear shoes, make certain to wash all four feet thoroughly after every walk. There is a tendency for dogs to lick the salt off their feet, which can cause an inflammation of the digestive tract. An alternative to boots is called Musher’s Secret, which is a wax that was developed in Canada to protect the feet of sledding dogs. Musher's Secret is made of natural non-toxic materials and forms a breathable bond with your dog's paws to protect them from the elements. It can also be used in the summer to protect feet from hot pavement.
Antifreeze smells and tastes sweet and delicious to pets, but is very toxic. Be sure to keep antifreeze in sealed containers out of reach of curious dogs and cats, and clean up any spills immediately. Be careful when walking dogs on city streets as antifreeze may leak from parked cars and pool up along the curb or in driveways. If your pet has ingested antifreeze, please call Park East Animal Hospital immediately.
Watch Out For Ice
Be particularly careful when escorting elderly or arthritic pets outside. They will become stiff and tender quickly in the cold air and may find it difficult to move about in the snow or ice. Keep them close to your side if your path is icy. A bad slip can cause a ruptured disc, broken leg or other major injury.
If your pet is showing signs of injury, toxic exposure, or hypothermia, please remember that the doctors at Park East Animal Hospital are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide the best possible care for you and your pets.