Winter pet tips from the Richmond SPCA
- Keep an eye on the temperature. Pets should always be kept indoors, especially when the temperature falls near or below freezing.
- Keep your pet's coat well-groomed. Matted fur won't properly protect your pet from the cold. Check your garage and driveway for antifreeze. Antifreeze tastes sweet to pets, but most brands are poisonous if consumed. Should your pet ingest any amount of antifreeze, contact your veterinarian immediately.
- Regularly check your pet's water to make sure it's not frozen. When your pet is outside, make sure plenty of fresh drinking water is available. Animals can't burn calories without a fresh supply of water, and if they can't burn calories, they'll get cold. Also, use a tip-resistant, ceramic or hard plastic water bowl rather than a metal one, as your pet's tongue can stick and freeze to cold metal.
- Use a damp towel to wipe your pet's feet and underside. Ice-melting chemicals can irritate and burn the pads of your pet's feet and can cause serious injury if ingested. Another way to protect your dog's feet is to spray the pads of his feet with cooking spray, or you can purchase boots for your pet.
- Provide a dry, draft-free doghouse if you must keep your dog outside for any period of time. It should be large enough to allow your dog to sit and lie down comfortably but small enough to hold in his body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The doghouse should be turned to face away from the wind, and the doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.
- Slap the hood of your vehicle before starting it. In their search to keep warm outdoors, cats often take refuge next to a warm car engine or tire.
- Keep snow from piling high next to your fence. A packed snowdrift will provide a boost for your dog to jump over the fence and escape the safe confines of your yard.
- Indoors, make sure your pet sleeps away from drafts. Areas near windows or doors that lead outdoors may allow cold air to seep in and keep your pet from staying adequately warm.
- Consider the amount of exercise your dog receives during colder weather. If your dog stays indoors more at this time of year, he's probably getting less exercise and may need less food; however, if your pet is outside often in the winter months he may need more food to burn the calories necessary to produce more body heat.