With the winter months upon us, I always worry about the poor little critters out there who do not have a permanent home or loving family to look after them, most especially at this time of the year. Of course, my personal feeling on the matter is IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, KEEP PETS LIVING INDOORS ALL YEAR ROUND!
However, I do realize that it is not always an option for some folks and so I have posted a few tips for those who either can not bring their pets inside, or are taking care of a stray but can not have them as pets themselves for some reason. Here is an article I found called, "Winter Weather Woes" and it lists tips to help ensure animals safety outdoors during the cold, life-threatening winter months:
1) Antifreeze (Ethylene Glycol)Antifreeze is highly toxic - it is rapidly absorbed (initial signs appear approximately one hour post-ingestion), and there is a high mortality rate. Other sources of this deadly chemical are: heat exchange fluids (sometimes used in solar collectors), some brake and transmissions fluids as well as diethylene glycol used in color film processing.
Acute cases (within 12 hours of ingestion) often present as if the animal was intoxicated with alcohol: stumbling, vomiting and depression are common signs. The kidneys are most severely affected, and even if the animal seems to improve initially with treatment, they may succumb shortly after to kidney failure. The kidneys shut down, and the animal is unable to produce urine. This type of kidney failure usually happens 12-24 hours after ingestion in cats, and 36-72 hours post ingestion in dogs. Success of treatment is dependent upon quick treatment. If you suspect that your animal has come into contact with antifreeze, contact your veterinarian immediately.
2) Arthritis and WinterCold, damp weather aggravates arthritis in dogs and cats. Arthritis can appear in young pets, but is most common in the middle age and geriatric pets. A fracture can also make the bone susceptible to arthritis after the injury is healed. Overweight pets suffer from arthritis more than their normal-weight counterparts.
If your pet is having trouble getting up or laying down, navigating the stairs, or has started to snap or cry when picked up, a visit to the veterinarian is in order. Many new arthritis treatments are available, both natural and medicinal.
NEVER medicate your dog with human prescription or over-the-counter medications without consulting your veterinarian first! One Tylenol™ tablet can be fatal to a cat.
3) Outdoor Pets Need ShelterI feel that if it is too cold outside for me, it is too cold for my dogs and cats. Some pets however, do live outside in wintry climates. Extra care must be taken to ensure your pet survives the low temperatures, wind chills, and moisture (rain, sleet, snow) of winter.
If your pet is housed outside, make sure that adequate shelter is provided -- to shield from wind, moisture, and cold. Position the shelter so the opening is not in the face of the prevailing winds. A drape or door also helps. Take extra care to ensure that your pet is comfortable and can get into and out of their housing easily.
Several pet and feed stores carry safe heated floor mats or non-electric warm bedding. Deeply bedded straw is another good insulator.
Do not use a heat lamp or other type of home heater - this is dangerous, and is the cause of many fires.
4) Pets need to have fresh water at all times#1 Tip - Water: Make sure the water is not frozen during this time of year. Contrary to what some people think, animals do not know how to break the ice. (OK, some may have learned this trick, but they are in the minority). Heated pet bowls are a solution for frigid temperatures. These bowls are very handy to have during the cold winter months, and are available in stainless steel or plastic. You can find them at most pet supply vendors and feed stores.
#2 Tip - Caloric Intake: Pets that live outdoors may need additional food (calories) to sustain body temperature as well. Please check with your veterinarian to decide if your pet needs additional nutritional intake.
5) Staying Fit
As always, exercise is important. If there is snow on the ground, check your pet's paws for ice balls or injuries. Rinse feet off if your pet has walked where deicers have been used. Some deicers are toxic when ingested (when pet licks paws). If your pet is having difficulty exercising due to depth of snow, slick icy surfaces, or appears to be winded, shorten the usual exercise times and monitor for any unusual signs.
Top 6 Winter Items for Pets:
Heated Water Bowl
Heated Pet Bed
Dog Sweaters and Jackets
Pet ID Tags
Pet Safe Ice Melt and Antifreeze
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