Vail Pet Talk column: Keep your pets safe in cold temperatures, avoid winter hazards
The snow we’ve had this week has many looking forward to the holidays and what’s to come … and with more in the forecast, it’s time to think about what we can do to keep our pets safe in this weather.
Our pets seem to enjoy the snow even more than we do at times, but there are things we need to keep in mind in order to keep them comfortable in the cold weather.
Wipe Pets’ Feet
Temperature tolerance for a dog or cat depends on each individual animal. Young animals, such as puppies and kittens, in addition to senior pets, tend not to tolerate the snow and cold as well. Dogs that are bred to withstand the cold and snow love being outside in it, but a small dog with a thin coat will begin to shiver quickly and will need to be brought inside.
Watch for signs that your pet is too chilly, such as them holding their paws up — once you see this, it’s time to come back inside. It’s a good idea to consider not shaving your dog in the winter or allowing its coat to be a bit longer during this season. Also, wipe its paws when you come inside— especially for the dogs with long hair on their feet because the hair can keep the pads of their feet wet.
Hazards Around Home
Hazards around the home that we see more of in the winter are rock salt and antifreeze. Antifreeze can upset an animal’s stomach if they ingest it, which is common if they get it on their feet and then groom themselves. It can also irritate their feet if it isn’t wiped off. Antifreeze is very toxic to dogs and cats and may be fatal if ingested. Be sure to clean up any spills; antifreeze tastes sweet, and we want our pets to stay away from it.
Keep an eye on your pet’s footpads to be sure that they do not become cracked. If you find they are cracked, then try a cow udder moisturizer to soothe them. If the crack becomes very deep, then it may require a trip to your vet for further treatment.
Most of all, enjoy the time outside with your pet in the snow! Once they are acclimated to the cold weather, it’s a great idea to continue your normal walks and time outside.
Dr. Liz Foster is an associate veterinarian at Mountain Mobile Vet and The Animal Hospital Center. She can be reached at 970-328-7085.