Thorns may hurt you, men desert you, sunlight turn to fog;
but you’re never friendless ever, if you have a dog.” – Douglas Mallock
Frigid temperatures can pose threats to our pet’s health. We all know how difficult summer weather can be on our pets, especially when left in a hot car.
Your pet’s size, thickness of coat, body fat stores, activity routine and overall health are important factors. A pet with long hair and a thick coat will fare better outside in the cold, but even they have their limits. If they are elderly or arthritic, it can be difficult walking on ice and through snow.
Does your pet have a chronic illness? Body temperature has more difficulty adjusting in ill, very young, or old pets.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) warns:
Cold weather may worsen some medical conditions such as arthritis. Your pet should be examined by a veterinarian at least once a year…so he or she is ready and as healthy as possible for cold weather.”
Cold Weather Myths and Vehicles
Yes, Some pets are bred specifically to thrive in colder climates, such as huskies, and they become more tolerant, but in frigid temperatures they can still get hypothermia and frostbite. Adequate shelter needs to be provided when your pet stays outside for any long periods of time, especially in below-freezing weather. Signs of frostbite include shaking and lethargy.
Leaving your pet inside a vehicle while you shop? The pet’s own body temperature is not enough to warm the interior of the car like you might think. Envision your car or truck rapidly becoming a refrigerator, especially when the sun sinks, or it begins to snow. Never leave your pet unattended in the car under these conditions.
Many cats have been killed because they sought the warmth found beneath the hood of a vehicle. Whenever you go to start your car or truck after it’s been parked in cold weather, make some noise to get feline hitchhikers to abandon their roost.
Frigid Weather Outdoor Tips for Your Pets
Dress-up your buddy when taking it for a walk. Dogs can be clowns, and they are very much aware of the extra attention they get when wearing a warm coat or sweater. Don’t reuse a wet sweater next time Fido goes out to do his business. This will chill him even more. Some owners provide snug hats and even boots or mittens.
While outside, frequently check their paws for signs of cracking or bleeding pads. Brittle ice can be sharp enough to cut their sensitive feet and toes. If they have thick hair growing between their toes, snow can accumulate and harden, creating pain and sores. You might want to clip that extra hair before going out.
With their bellies so close to the ground, a short legged pet can get freezing cold faster than a tall pooch. Sometimes, especially dogs with low bellies, will get a build-up of deicers, antifreeze or other chemicals that can be toxic to their skin or make them ill if they lick it off. This nasty stuff can cover their tummy, legs, feet and tail, so once inside, use a warm damp cloth to wipe them down.
Do you live near a frozen lake or pond? Don’t allow your dog to take off running across the ice. Many dogs have plunged in when their owner thought it safe. Hypothermia and death may result. Plus, instinctively we want to rescue our pet from these dire straits, bringing harm to both of you.
Other Winter Advice for our Pets
Did you know pets can become lost in the snow and ice, not able to follow scent or recognize their surroundings? Does your dog or cat have a good collar, ID and chip?
Be cautious with candles and fireplaces. Pets may get too close when seeking a warm cozy spot to snooze, and don’t place their bedding too close to heating sources. For example, if you have a pet iguana, or snake in an aquarium, your cat may crawl beneath the heat lamp and become scorched before they realize it, thinking it’s a great place to stay warm.
Some foods are toxic to pets, and around the holidays they have a way of sniffing out foods when no one is noticing. Watch out for onions, xylitol (a sugar substitute) and chocolate (or maybe the whole turkey). Don’t allow well-meaning holiday guests or children to feed your dog chocolate.
Happy New Year From All of us at ABEL
To our customers, friends, family (and their pets), may your year be warm, safe and joyous. And we’re here to help if you experience any unexpected heating problems during these cold winter months.
For more information or to schedule a furnace inspection, give us a call at 952-472-COOL (2665) or Contact Us
Even Frost and the Bard enjoyed dogs!
An earthly dog of the carriage breed;
Who, having failed of the modern speed,
Now asked asylum and I was stirred
To be the one so dog preferred. – Robert Frost
Let Hercules himself do what he may,
The cat will mew and the dog will have his day. – William Shakespeare