By BRAD SNYDER
While our holiday celebrations will soon come to a close, winter is just beginning. We know January is the coldest month of the year in the Capital Region, with an average low of 18 degrees and a high of just 32.
Did you also know that our pets, even though they have a coat of fur, don’t necessarily tolerate the cold better than humans? Like us, they are used to the warmth of indoor shelter, and cold weather can be as hard for them as it is for us.
Whether you and your pet love the winter or would rather snuggle under a blanket on the couch, one thing is certain: It’s a time when our pets need a little extra care. Here are some tips to ensure that your furry friends are as comfortable as possible during the cold months ahead.
Limit outdoor time. Take your dog out frequently for walks, exercise and play, but when the temperature drops don’t leave them outdoors for long periods of time. Ears, paws and tails are all susceptible to frostbite. Also be sure to keep your cats indoors in winter; in cold weather they often seek shelter and heat under the hoods of cars, and can be injured or killed when the ignition is turned on.
Cozy bedding. Don’t make your dog or cat sleep on a cold floor in winter. Choosing the right bedding is vital to ensure that your pet stays warm. Warm blankets can create a snug environment; raised beds can keep your dog or cat off cold tiles or concrete; and heated pet beds can help keep the stiffness out of aging joints.
Protect your pets from heat sources. Dogs and cats will often seek heat during cold winter weather by snuggling too close to heating sources. Avoid space heaters and install baseboard radiator covers to prevent your pet from getting burned. Fireplaces also pose a major threat, so make sure you have a pet-proof system to keep your heat-seeking pal out of harm’s way.
Paw care is a must. Ice-melts on sidewalks and driveways can burn your dog’s pads and can be toxic, so after walks around the neighborhood rinse or wipe your dog’s paws to remove any residue. If your dog shows signs of discomfort when walking outside on frozen or salted surfaces, consider using dog booties to protect their paws.
Special care for seniors. Cold weather can aggravate existing medical conditions in dogs, particularly arthritis. It’s important to maintain an exercise regimen with your arthritic dog but be mindful of slippery surfaces. If you don’t already give your senior dog a joint supplement to ease the discomfort of arthritis, you might want to consider adding one in winter.
Responsible pet guardians can avoid the wide variety of concerns harsh winter weather brings with a little preparation. Paying extra attention to your loyal friend’s well-being during winter will ensure that you both enjoy the season to the fullest.
Brad Snyder is a volunteer at the Animal Protective Foundation. APF contributes Animal Chronicles articles and welcomes animal-related questions and stories about the people and animals in our community. Visit animalprotective.org, follow us on social media @AnimalProtectiveFoundation or email [email protected]
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