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Monday, January 26, 2015

Pets & Winter Care: 3 Tips to Protect Your Pet

Affordable Pet HealthCare Insurance - Your Pets Deserve it

Pets & Winter Care: 3 Tips to Protect Your Pet
 by Taylor Malowney

       Pet winter tips
Consider a sweater to keep your small pup warm and stylish this winter. Image via Creative Commons on Flickr.
As the temperatures drop this holiday season, give your pet a little extra warmth with these winter pet tips.

Fend Off Frostbite
Prolonged exposure to the bitter wind and snow can cause frostbite, which occurs when part of the body freezes. Sensitive areas unprotected by fur are the most vulnerable to frostbite in pets. Depending on the temperature outside, frostbite can develop in as little as 30 minutes or less, especially if your pet gets wet.

“We've had dogs that have come in with frostbite on their ears, specifically on their nose, on the pads of their feet, those are the areas, and the tip of the tail,” says Lauren Fox, executive director of All Breed Rescue and Training, a shelter in chilly Colorado Springs. “Those tend to be the areas that get frostbite.”

Outdoor cats have an even greater risk of feline frostbite occurring; walking through snow soaks fur and paws, decreasing body temperature. Consider keeping your pet indoors, or set up a cat door or heated shelter.

Adjust Outdoors Time
It’s a common myth that all animals are naturally more resistant to cold because of their fur coats, says Sarah Reyes of the Everett Animal Shelter in Washington. Think about it—Chihuahuas and Persians weren't built for subzero temperatures, although your Maine Coon or Husky mix might be.

Tolerance of winter temperatures varies by your pet’s breed, age and what climate they’re acclimated to. “Shortening walks can be really important, adding clothing; a jacket and booties can really helpful for those short-cut dogs,” advises Nicole Nolte, Operations Director of the Missoula Humane Society in Montana.

Pet winter tips
Although your pooch may be having a blast, limit playtime outdoors when the temperature drops. 

When the mercury hits 20 degrees Fahrenheit, shorten your pet’s walks; at 10 degrees, restrict exposure to the elements only for bathroom breaks.

Provide a Safe Shelter
For those pets that enjoy the great outdoors, set up a warm, well-insulated area. Staying warm burns more calories, making a thirsty pooch; provide plenty of fresh water and make sure bowls don’t freeze over!

Snug bedding is also a must-have for an outdoor pet shelter. If your pet likes to move between his home and yours, consider installing a doggy door. Allowing your pet free access ensures no one’s left in the cold.

Your pet is also not the best communicator, so keep an eye out for signs of coldness. “If your pet is whining, shivering, seems anxious, slows down or stops moving, seems weak, or starts looking for warm places to burrow, get them back inside quickly because they are showing signs of hypothermia,” urges the American Veterinary Medical Association to cold weather pet parents.

Enjoy the wintry wonderland with your pets—just from the warmth and safety of your home. Even dogs that are well-suited to cold climates should still have outdoors time limited to prevent frostbite and hypothermia. Outdoor pets should be brought inside, but if it’s unavoidable, provide your pet with a warm shelter, fresh water and cozy bedding.

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