Caring for your pet in cold weather
The Humane Society of Boulder Valley and the City of Boulder Animal Control wants to remind you that your furry or feathered companions may also be feeling the chill. In addition to being vulnerable to the cold weather, many wintertime household products can be harmful to pets. Here are some tips to help ensure that your pets stay healthy and safe until spring:
Provide adequate shelter
Even if your pets are indoor/outdoor creatures, make sure their outdoor areas are well sheltered from the cold and wind. Dog houses should face South and filled with hay or straw as blankets freeze and do not help keep an animal warm. The shelter entryway should be protected by a self closing door, an offset door or a flexible flap made of windproof material. This will allow the animal to maintain its body heat in frigid temperatures. Keep animals inside during especially cold spells and inclement weather.
Supply plenty of potable water
Animals still need to drink plenty of water. Winter air can be very dry, leaving pets dehydrated, just as they are during the hot summer months. Make sure your pets have plenty of food and water. If your pet's water bowl is kept outside, make sure the water hasn't frozen during a cold snap.
Use caution when leaving your pet's food outside, as wild animals may wander onto your property to graze if their usual food supply is suffering a shortage.
Monitor outdoor activity
When taking pets outside for exercise or play, keep them warm with a sweater or jacket made just for them, and only allow them to play for short periods of time. They can become cold quickly as they lose body heat from the large portions of their body that is exposed to the weather such as their feet and face. If your pet is playing off-leash in a snowy area, keep them in sight at all times. Snow makes it difficult for dogs to scent their way back to you and may become lost or confused.
Keep dangerous chemicals out of reach
While taking steps to prepare your car for the long winter, be on the lookout for any antifreeze or engine coolant spills that might occur. These products contain chemicals that are harmful and potentially fatal to animals. It is important that you remember to store any potentially harmful chemicals in clearly marked sealed containers stored in a location that is inaccessible to your pets.
Be careful of ice-melt products
We rely on ice melts to rid slippery sidewalks, roadways and driveways of the ice and snow during the winter months. But these products may contain ingredients such as calcium chloride and sodium chloride (table salt) that can irritate animal paws or skin. Pets may also accidentally ingest ice melt from their paws or from the ground. Depending on the amount ingested, ice melts can potentially produce a variety of effects such as drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and, in severe cases, cardiac abnormalities, seizures, and even death. If you suspect your pet may have accidentally ingested any harmful ingredients, please seek veterinary treatment immediately.
Check your vehicle
During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars for warmth and protection. But a car's fan belt can kill or injure an animal when the motor starts. If you are aware that there are outdoor or feral cats in your neighborhood, please bang on the hood of the car and wait a few seconds before turning on the engine.