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Keep Your Pets Warm, Happy & Safe During The Winter Holiday

BubbleLife has already written about holiday safety for the family, but now it’s time to move onto pets. With so many people coming and going, it’s easy for pets to get lost in the mix. Here is some safety advice for our four-legged friends.

DOGS

  • More so than any other season, winter is when the most dogs are lost. That’s because dogs can lose their scent in the snow or ice. When taking your dog for a walk, make sure to keep them on their leash the entire time and make sure they have a collar with dog tags.
  • After your dog has had its fill of frolicking in the snow, be sure to wipe the remaining snow and ice off their legs and stomach. This isn’t because of the cold but because dogs can ingest salt, antifreeze or other dangerous chemicals while licking their paws. Antifreeze, especially, is the most deadly due to its sweetness and high toxicity.
  • Don’t cut or shave your dog’s hair in the winter. A longer coat will keep your dog warm. And if you own a short-haired breed, consider getting your dog a doggie sweater with a turtleneck that will cover from the neck to the base of the tail. It may look silly but your dog will thank you for it.
  • Dogs need extra protein in their diet during the winter months to keep their health and fur in top form. This is doubly important if your dog is active in outdoor activities.

CATS

  • Even if your cat is generally an indoor cat, try and keep them inside during the winter. Felines can freeze, become lost and get injured or killed before you have time to react.
  • Unlike dogs, cats don’t take kindly to being stuffed in a sweater, even if it does keep them warm. So if your cat refuses to stay indoors, build them a dry, warm cat shelter that they can take refuge in. Make sure the shelter is insulated and line the bottom with some old clothes or even some hay. Be sure to also raise the shelter a few inches off the ground to prevent the cold from leeching the heat away through the ground.
  • Feral cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars during the winter to stay warm. However, when the motor is started, the cat can get seriously injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood to give the cat a fair warning.
  • Don’t leave your cat (or dog) in a car while you do any last minute shopping. During the winter, a car will quickly lose its warm and become more of a refrigerator – holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
  • Make sure your cat has a warm place to sleep at night that is off the floor and away from drafts. Even a simple blanket on the couch will be more than enough to keep your cat cozy and warm.

SIGNS OF HYPOTHERMIA

  • Violent shivering followed by listlessness
  • Weak pulse
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Problems breathing
  • Lack of appetite
  • Coma
  • Cardiac arrest

HYPOTHERMIA TREATMENT

  • Immediately bring your pet out of the cold and into a warm room.
  • Give your pet a solution of warm water mixed with four teaspoons of honey or sugar. If your pet is too weak to drink, put two teaspoons of corn syrup on your pet’s gums. This will help as an energy boost.
  • Place warm, towel-wrapped water bottles against your pet’s stomach, armpits and chest and then wrap them up in a blanket. Do NOT use hairdryers, heating pads or electric blankets. This could cause burns or surface blood vessels to dilate.
  • Get in touch with your veterinarian immediately.

SIGNS OF FROSTBITE

  • Pale, gray or blue skin first
  • Red, puffy skin later
  • Pain in ear, tails or paws (extremities) when touched
  • Skin stays cold
  • Shriveled skin

FROSTBITE TREATMENT

  • Apply warm (not hot) water for at least 20 minutes to the frostbitten area.
  • Be very gentle with the affected areas. Do NOT massage or rub the areas as this could cause permanent damage.
  • Get in touch with your veterinarian immediately.
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Wednesday, December 21, 2011