Don’t forget to bundle up your furry friend before you leave the house this winter. Puppies and elderly dogs are extra susceptible to the cold. Leaving your dog or cat outdoors in the rain or snow can result in illness. Follow these 10 tips from the Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to keep your pets safe during the cold weather.
• Limit outdoor trips.
Keeping your pets indoors as much as possible is the best way to keep them safe this winter. Limit outdoor trips when possible. The Nassau County SPCA says that “outdoor cats are especially susceptible to hazards like frostbite, getting lost or being exposed to diseases.” Allow them inside during the winter months.
• Always use a leash.
If you wander out into the cold with your pet, be sure to keep them on a leash. Even the most obedient pets are safer when on-leash in the snow and rain. Winter weather can “wipe away familiar scents” and leave your pup lost or confused.
• Dress your pet in a winter coat.
You wouldn’t wander into the snow without a winter jacket on, so why should your dog? A dog’s fur alone isn’t enough protection from frigid temperatures, especially as a puppy or senior. Be sure to slip a winter coat or raincoat on your furry friend before you allow them outdoors.
• Keep pets away from electrical items.
Your dog or cat may love to snuggle up next to you and enjoy the warmth of your heated blanket, but allowing them to do so unattended can be dangerous. If you’re worried about your dog keeping warm at night, try using SnuggleSafe Pet Heating Pads. Warm up the pads in the microwave for 5 minutes and the pads will retain heat for up to 12 hours.
• Encourage potty trips.
You may find your pet is reluctant to take potty breaks in rain and snow. Encouraging them to continue to head outdoors to do their business is important. Make sure they feel comfortable by bringing an umbrella or slipping a raincoat on them before heading outside.
• Check for cats hiding under your car.
In the winter months, it’s not uncommon to find outdoor cats seeking shelter underneath your car. Starting your car while a cat lies beneath it can be dangerous. The Nassau County SPCA’s trick to evict stowaways is to “bang on the hood of your car loudly a few times before you enter.” The noise will scare away any sleeping kitties.
• Never leave pets in the car.
Never leave your pet unattended in a car. Especially not during the hot summer temperatures or the frigid ones in the winter. If it’s cold outside, choose to leave your dog at home instead.
• Keep them dry.
After playing in the snow, be sure to dry your pet immediately. Thoroughly drying your pet with a towel will keep them healthy. Don’t forget to wipe their legs, paws and stomach. Salt from the ice and antifreeze can be hazardous if left on their paws.
• Don’t leave them outside.
Leaving your dog or cat outside unattended in the snow or rain puts them at risk for illness. If your dog or cat needs to be kept outside, create a warm, dry place for them. Build a dog house or cat shelter that is well-insulated. Check their water bowl frequently to be sure the water hasn’t turned into ice.
• Keep them healthy.
Dogs and cats with weak immune systems should avoid the outdoors as much as possible during the cold months. Low temperatures can make pets “more susceptible to illness during the change of seasons.” If you notice your pet feeling under the weather, don’t ignore the symptoms. Take them to the vet immediately.