GREAT FALLS — As winter approaches, here are some precautions you can take to care for your pet's well being:
- KEEP THEM INDOORS: The cold temperatures can be dangerous and harmful for all animals. Cats can easily get frost bite and will often seek shelter by crawling into tight and warm spaces like car engines, which can potentially be fatal. If possible, cats should be kept indoors in cold temperatures. Check your vehicle for furry intruders before turning it on.
- Dogs should also be kept inside if possible. If they are kept outside, they should have a draft-free shelter that is large enough to turn around in, but small enough to retain their body heat. Their shelters should also include a good, warm bedding that insulates them against the cold.
- WIPE THEIR PAWS: After letting your pet outside to relieve themselves, be sure to wipe their paws before coming inside. Paw pads can be injured from salts and other ice-melting chemicals, and can be ingested to cause excessive drooling, vomiting and depression.
- BATHE THEM LESS OFTEN: You should bathe your pet as little as possible during cold spells, as the temperatures increase the chances of dry, flaky skin.
- CHECK THEIR DIET: Your pet may also need an adjustment to their diet in the winter. Outdoor animals typically need more calories in the winter, as this allows their body to create more body heat. If your pet is allowed to go outside, you might should consider increasing the amount of food they receive daily. Indoor-only animals may need fewer calories to avoid weight gain.
- WATCH THEIR MEDS: Winter is typically cold and flu season, so be sure to keep medications put up and out of reach. Do not medicate your pet unless you are specifically told to do so by your veterinarian.
- STORE AWAY DANGEROUS ITEMS: Rat and mouse killers are also used more frequently in colder months, so keep these out of contact with your pets as well. If you suspect your furry friend has gotten into a potentially poisonous substance, contact your veterinarian immediately. You should always have the telephone number to your local emergency animal hospital readily available in case of emergencies.
- As always, keep an eye on what your pet consumes. Antifreeze is deadly to animals and the sweet taste can be extremely tempting to animals that are allowed in garages. Look for “safe” non-toxic antifreeze and make sure all spills are cleaned promptly and thoroughly. If you believe your pet has ingested antifreeze, you need to contact your veterinarian immediately.
If you have any questions or concerns about pet safety this winter, contact your pet's veterinarian.