Winter Wonderland

Oquirrh lake in December

There is no denying the beauty of winter. From the first flurries of snow to blinding blizzards, Mother Nature sure knows how to put on a show. Winter also comes with warm drinks and bright fires, holidays and friends. It is the warmest, and coldest time of year. To keep it a happy care free time, learn the hazards your pet could face so you can avoid.

Holidays come with their own set of hazards, just ask any firemen you know about electrical hazards. Knowing what to watch out for, will help your pet enjoy the season.

It doesn’t hurt to remember living wild is rough. It’s a hard time for the wild animals to survive. Making bird feeders for your feathered friends, watch for strays and remember, cars get really hot after a drive and make a nice, warm sleeping spot once parked. Banging on your hood or honking your horn before you start the engine is a good way to scare out any squatters before they get caught in your fan belt or taken on a strange ride with you.

Alert the local Animal Control to strays or find them homes. It’s no fun living outside in the bitter cold.

General Concerns:

Just like summer, do not leave your pet unsupervised in your car. Car’s get very hot or cold fast. Leave your pet safe at home.

Grooming is important, especially in winter, but please don’t be tempted to shave down your pet in the cold season. They need their long fur to stay warm. If you must do it, save the shave for hotter times. If you are concerned with snowballs in the fur, brush them out the moment your pet comes inside and then towel dry.

The toe fur can be cut short however. Those sensitive digits can pick up salt, chemicals and dirt. Keep that fur short and those feet clean. Wash the feet after each time out or at least use a baby wipe to do a cleaning and inspection. Dry, clean feet are happy feet.

Cold outside usually means more time inside. This is an excellent time to inspect your place from your pets point of view. That’s right. If you are physically capable, its time to get on all fours and look around. Pets are a lot like toddlers and need some safety proofing. Time to review your safety policies. Go here if you need a reminder on good safety practices.

Blizzards, and other bad weather, can keep you home bound for days! Make sure you have at least five days worth of food, medicine and other supplies on hand for you and your pet. You also may want to learn about how to stay warm when the power is out.

Running the heater all day can make your house very dry and lead to excess itching, coughing and sneezing, especially when you first turn on the heat for the winter and blow all that dust into your environment. It is a great idea to invest in a humidifier-air purifier for those long winter months. We use this cheapy beast and it has served us well. I especially like the changeable filters. As long as your pet is still eating, active and all sneezes-runny noses stay clear, vacuuming daily and running the humidifier should make them, and you, much more comfortable. Seek veterinary advice if the mucous gets thick or green and cough does not improve or becomes worse.

Dry indoors also leads to threat of dehydration. Always make sure your pet has access to fresh, not frozen, water. Always. Always. Always.

 

 

Young and old animals have trouble regulating their bodily temperature. Make sure they have access to a warm, draft free area to retreat to. Jackets are fashionable, as well as important, for these kids, but all short haired pets would benefit from jackets on really cold days. If you’re cold, chances are they are too.

 

 

Watch your pets weight. Staying warm burns a lot of energy and may lead to malnutrition. Alternately, long-inactive days by the fire can start to show around the mid-line. A healthy weight goes a long way to keep the body functioning right and more powerful at fighting off illness.

Do not stop moving when it is cold outside!

Below 20 degrees is just plain miserable so it is best to stay inside when the temperatures drop. Find an indoor game to play. Roll fetch? Long hallway fetch? Run up and down the stairs? Toys? Drop them off at doggy daycare to run while you work? Something. You and your pet both need the activity. It will keep you warm, fit and ready to play when the days get warmer. It also helps with your mood on these dark days that often lead to depression. Depression is an underrated illness that leads to all sorts of health and social concerns. Fight it with healthy food and good exercise.

As cats and dogs have different needs, we will now have a parting of ways.

Dog friends, fetch this page for outdoor safety.

Cats, scamper over to this page for indoor napping.

To all my friends: Stay safe and healthy and enjoy these cold months!

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