Winter Safety and Your Pet
Typically, when we think about winter risks and worries, we often associate such problems with those who reside in colder, snowier climates. After all, it’s mild in Texas – so winter is no problem, right?
And, while this is partially true when it comes the consistent deep freeze and snow storm risk of more northern states, there are times when our region’s temps dip into the 20s or are consistently below 40 degrees at night. Aside from the cold temperature risk to pets, and especially small, smooth-coated breeds and senior pets, there are also seasonal pet considerations that can fall by the wayside in the busy holiday frenzy.
Before getting lost in the holly jolly schedule of parties, shopping, and travel, make sure you’ve covered all of these seasonal issues that might risk your pet’s comfort, health, and general safety.
The Long, Dark Night
If your pet is outside in the evening or early hours, whether playing fetch in the yard with you or on a brisk stroll to the park, keep visibility in mind. Most pets, especially those with dark coats, are hard for drivers to spot. There are numerous glow jackets, reflective patches, illuminated collars and harnesses, and other quality protective wear for pets, designed for greater visibility on those long, dark winter nights. Oh, and don’t forget your own light colored jacket or reflective backpack!
Also, consider bringing outdoor kitties inside. They are especially susceptible during winter season. If you must leave them outside, opt for a reflective or illuminated collar and always make sure identification tag and microchip information are accurate, should your pet become lost or injured.
While the 40s aren’t terribly cold for most pets, those who have been ill, are older, or who have smaller frames and short, smooth coats, are often more prone to hypothermia than their younger, healthier, or furrier counterparts. If your pet is easily chilled, double up on the covers or consider a self-heating, thick dog bed, a cuddle sack/bed for your cat, or a heated orthopedic bed for those who are ill or into their senior years.
Again, it is best to keep your pet indoors at night, no matter what time of year, but if you cannot bring your outdoor pet inside, make sure you provide insulated housing with plenty of blankets, elevated off of the ground and in a dry, protected area of the yard.
Ah, when the first nippy night of autumn arrived, didn’t we think to ourselves, “It’s over, mosquitos!”? No more bug spray and netting, or miserable bites and itches. Unfortunately, given the mild winter temperatures, our pets require year-round preventatives for fleas and heartworms, among other parasites. If you are unsure what your cat or dog might require, schedule an appointment and we can discuss issues related to time spent outdoors, around water, or in other regions during holiday travel and vacations.
No Lodging Here
Cooler nights and warm, unattended cars can spell disaster when it comes to an unsuspecting cat taking refuge under the hood. Every year accidents and deaths occur when animals seek warmth near an engine. To be on the safe side, remember to tap your hood a few times or honk your horn before starting the ignition.
If a feral cat population is in your neighborhood, contact the Animal Services Division and inquire about their trap-and-release or shelter policy, and also read up on winter safety tips for strays and what you can do to help.
Even though icy roads are rare in this region, there are numerous chemicals common to the season you can expect to encounter. Antifreeze is often lethal to your pet, even in small doses. Keep outdoor kitties inside for their safety, and watch your dog when out on a morning walk or run, since puddles of antifreeze and other chemicals can be a temptation for him or her.
More information on dangerous chemicals and plants can be found on a previous blog post about outdoor pet toxins. And, if you ever suspect your pet has ingested any poisonous or toxic chemicals or substances, please call our hospital right away.
Winter months – even in mild Texas – can present unique challenges and require the forethought to prevent accidents, injuries, or illness in your pet. With some simple planning, you can expect to keep the winter season jolly and festive for every member of the family, including your beloved pets.