Ruff Times

LaCava's Mobile Veterinary Service Blog
Winter Safety Tips
Published by Cassandra LaCava in Winter Safety Tips • 2/21/2013 12:36:17 PM
We live in New England and guess what? There is snow on the way again! So here are some tips you should follow all winter long to keep your best friend safe and warm.

Never let your dog off leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. Canines may lose their scent in winter weather, and can easily become lost. In fact, more dogs are reported lost during this time of the year than in any other season, so make sure yours always wears proper identification. Even if you have an electric fence, you need to be aware of risks. Ice on the ground can actually cause a bridge between the electric fence line and the collar around your dog’s neck, allowing your dog to get shocked when nowhere near the edge of the property. So please be careful of any odd behavior your dog may exhibit when wearing the collar near ice.

Provide your companion animal with a warm place to sleep, far away from drafts and off the floor. Dog and cat beds with a warm blanket or pillow are especially cozy. You can also get your pup a sweater. Sweaters hug the body which has been proven to comfort and calm your dog. Not to mention, they really do help to keep them warm!

Please keep cats inside! Felines who spend time outside can freeze, or become lost or injured. And some outdoor cats seek the warmth under the hoods of cars -- so if there are any such kitties in your neighborhood remember to bang loudly on the hood and wait a few seconds before starting your vehicle.

Wipe off your dog's legs and belly when she comes in out of the elements. This will remove any salt, antifreeze or other harmful chemicals that could hurt your dog should she ingest them when licking her paws. Even if you use “pet safe” driveway/sidewalk salt, please follow these steps. You always want to minimize the time that your pets paws are in contact with salt, even if it’s “pet safe”. It still can cause burns if your dog is exposed to it for an unusually long period of time. Another option is to cover their feet with booties or dog socks and their bodies with sweaters. Don't let them drink out of the puddles.

Puppies can't handle the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be more difficult to housebreak during the winter.

Most importantly: Pay Attention. This one may seem obvious but if you’re not paying attention to how your dog is acting outdoors you may be putting them at risk. Behaviors such as shivering, dancing around, or lifting up their paws are all signs that your dog (or cat) is too cold. This can most likely be avoided if you follow the rule, if it's less than 40 degrees out, the maximum your dog should be out is 30 minutes! But, bring them inside if they exhibit any of those behaviors.