Winter can be very difficult for humans, but it can also be unbearable for animals, especially pets. The coldest season brings many risks for cats and dogs alike, so it's very important to know how you can avoid them.
Here are some of the biggest dangers for cats and dogs in winter, with our tips on how to avoid them and protect your furry friends:
1. Your pet can get cold
It might seem obvious, but still worth mentioning as it is the most important thing to remember when thinking about your pet's health in the winter.
Despite their fur, most pet cats and dogs are not well equipped to deal with cold weather. Many pets, used to staying inside, won't grow their winter coats in enough to truly deal with how cold it is, for example.
Short haired cats and dogs, especially those who are originally from warmer climates, may need a coat, boots and other protective clothing when they go outside.
Finally, despite what you might think, oerweight animals are less resistant to cold weather than ones who are a healthy weight. This is because obesity causes problems with thermoregulation (the ability for your body to control how hot it is).
Don't let your pet be outside for too long in low temperatures and make sure that they are dressed for it if they do.
2. Watch out for snow getting caught up in their fur
Although many dogs love snow, it can be dangerous for them, as well as for cats. As well as the problems caused by freezing temperatures, snow can cause digestive issues if your pet eats it. It is therefore very important that you try not to let your furry friend eat any, no matter how much they want to!
Snow can also stick to their fur and form clumps of ice. If these touch your pet's skin, it can cause a burning sensation and even leave wounds.
You can avoid this by not letting your loyal companion stay in snow long enough for ice to form and to make sure that all snow is melted off them once you're back inside. This can be with a warm bath, or a hair dryer on mid heat if they're not keen on getting wet.
3. Protect your pet's paws and ears
The paws and ears of our cats and dogs are particularly sensitive to low temperatures. When an animal is cold, they will curl up in a ball to protect their muzzle and paws, but this leaves their ears still exposed. If they are exposed to freezing temperatures for too long, blood circulation to the tip of the ear will stop and could eventually cause it to fall off.
Your pet's paw pads can be hurt by the cold and icy ground, which could cause itchy, painful chilblains or ice burns to form. You should also watch out for grit and salt, which can also irritate their skin.
4. Make sure they have plenty of food and water
In extreme temperatures of any kind, your pet's needs will be different to normal. Too help them cope with low temperatures, your pet will need to at more than usual. Consult your vet to make sure that you are giving them the right amount to keep them healthy.
Dehydration could also pose a threat, as water that your cat or dog would have been able to drink outside may now be frozen over. Make sure that they have access to plenty to drink over the winter.
5. Make sure your cat isn't hiding in your car
Many pets find antifreeze strangely tempting to lick or eat, something extremely dangerous as it is highly poisonous. Keep somewhere secure and out of reach of curious noses.
Source: La vie des chats
Your car can also be a death trap for stray cats, who try and find shelter under it, or in the gap between the wheels and the body. To avoid accidentally killing a cat, check under your car and tap on it several times before setting off. The noise will probably scare them off.
6. Look out for cold drafts
Winter winds can even cause issues inside your home! It isn't possible to stop cold getting in your house at all, but you can kee your pet toasty and awrm by making sure that their basket is in a sheltered position, away from any drafts. If your floors get cold, put a blanket or mat under the basket to insulate it.
Finally, many plants, especially Christmas plants, are toxic for cats and dogs, which could make them ill if eaten.
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