It's a funny thing about blogging. Occasionally, it's almost as if there's something in the air getting everyone on the same wavelength. Last week, I sat down to plot out the next few months of Nesty, and I decided that, given the dramatic weather Canada's had recently, it would be a perfect time to do a post on Winter pet care. And then, low and behold, earlier this week my sister-in-law and several other friends shared on Facebook a Weather Network article on Keeping Pets Warm in Cold Weather. I love when this happens (and not just because it helps me with my research!) because it means that something I feel strongly about is circulating in the mainstream, which is ultimately one of the best ways to bring about positive change.
And let's face it, animal welfare is something many of us feel strongly about. And yet, many people who purport to be animal lovers fail their faithful friends miserably once the mercury drops. Winter pet care is truly an area where animal owners must be willing to step forward and listen to the modern wisdom of vets and other animal welfare experts. Yes, things were different in generations past. Dog spent long days and nights outside without shelter, or even worse, tied up with no shelter and no way to find it or keep warm. Cats were put out and left out in all sorts of horrible weather. Most of us know better now, and it's good to see the message getting out to those who still don't.
Even for those of us who's pets are spoiled silly no matter what the weather, the articles on Winter pet care that I've been reading have some good information that we may not be aware of. For example, did you know that anti-freeze, poisonous to pets, has a taste that's appealing to dogs? Or that the salt on our walkways and roads can irritate paws? And that, just like their humans, pets can suffer from Winter dry skin, too?
Here are a few of my favorite tips to ensure that your little buddies have a safe, happy, and fun Winter:
- Be aware of your dog's limits. Size, breed, and coat type can all affect how your dog will be able to handle Winter weather conditions. If you aren't sure, ask your vet.
- Consider clothes. Yes, really! They aren't just for fashion! Our Yorkie wears a sweater out of necessity; despite originating in the British Isles, Yorkies are very susceptible to cold.
- Wipe down paws when you return home from walks to remove salt and chemical melting agents that can irritate paws, or cause even more serious issues should your pet lick their paws.
- If your pet spends a lot of time outside, keep an eye on the temperature and be sure to bring them inside when the temperature drops below what your vet recommends. And if you hear a warning to bring your pets inside (on the radio, news, etc) DO IT!!!! Animals should never be left outside in cold weather if you aren't home to monitor them.
- Outdoor water bowls can freeze over, so be sure to monitor them throughout the day if your dog spends a lot of time outside.
- Stray cats have been known to climb under car hoods to stay warm, with disastrous results when the unsuspecting driver turns on the engine. The BC SPCA suggests thumping on the hood of your vehicle before starting it up to frighten away any cat nappers.
These are just a few of the suggestions that jumped out at me during my research. There are a lot of great resources out there and they do a much better job than I of telling you how to look out for our animal friends, so I'm going to include a list of links below. I strongly suggest you take the time to review them; like myself, you might learn something new that could save your best friend's life!
- Keeping Pets Warm in Cold Weather (The Weather Network)
- Winter Health Tips for Your Dog (Responsible Dog Owners.ca, article from the ASPCA)
- Holiday Safety Tips (BC SPCA)