Winter in Michigan is beautiful but can be harsh. If you live in a climate that has a harsh winter there are precautions you should take for your pet. They are at risk of frostbite, and hypothermia. So, what are some things to be concerned about if you live in a harsh winter climate to have the best winter care for your pets?
If your pet is an outside pet they need a warm insulated shelter. Even though they have a coat of fur if it becomes wet it loses some of its insulation. Your family pet can easily get frostbite on their ears, tail, and paws if left in the cold too long. If possible keep them indoors at night. It’s no fun sleeping in the cold for them and it is safer for them to be indoors.
If you have stray cats that hang out in your yard building them an outdoor shelter will help them.
- An inexpensive and effective house is buying two plastic storage tubs, one larger than the other.
- Cut a hole in each tub for the door, big enough for a cat to jump through.
- Stuff styrofoam insulation between the two tubs.
- Next, fill the inner tub with straw and your shelter is complete!
Protect Your Dog’s Paws
Cleaning snow and salt from where they frequent is important. Sidewalk salt can be rough on their paws. There are options for pet safe salt such as Safe Paw. If you plan on taking your canine on a walk around town, winter boots are a good idea. The brand we love is Muttluks. The boots are durable and they have many sizes to choose from. The sidewalk salt that is used most often is abrasive and can cause burns to their paws. The salt can become lodged between their paw pads. You should check their paw pads after walks or anytime they are around salt and ice.
If you found that your dog’s paws have abrasions you can always use Pura Naturals Certified Organic Paw Rescue. It moisturizes with shea butter and vitamin E. Its USDA certified organic and is safe if licked. Animals with short fur coats can also wear sweaters to aid in keeping them warm.
Beware of Antifreeze
Another item we use during winter that can be harmful to our pets is antifreeze. Antifreeze has a sweet taste that pets like, however it can be deadly. If your pet ingests antifreeze seek veterinary assistance immediately.
Leave Your Dog at Home
Speaking of vehicles, leaving your pet unattended in a vehicle is dangerous, especially during winter. The freezing temperatures in winter can cause hypothermia in your pet. On the other hand, if you leave the heat on carbon monoxide could build up or your pet could overheat.
Always watch out for stray animals too. They need a place to keep warm. Guess what works great for them! The tire of your car! A nice tap to the tires will get them alerted and moving.
Watch Your Dog’s Diet
Nutrition and water intake are especially important in winter. Make sure your pet has fresh water every day. Ice cubes are refreshing in the winter for your pup, but keep them out of their water during winter. Your pet may be hungrier in the winter, just be sure not to overfeed them. Feeding your pet twice a day at the same time every day is a good habit. It is easier to notice any fluctuations in their intake.
A nice brushed coat will still keep them warm and prevent matted hair. Brushing your pet’s coat can also help with dry, flaky skin. Don’t hesitate to still bath your pet if they have dry skin. Continue to groom them as normal and adjust their diet. I use is CBD oil or coconut oil in my pet’s food. If your pet has fur that grows on the bottom of their paws be sure to keep it trimmed. Salt and ice can cling to the fur and cause abrasions.
Consider Your Dog’s Age
Older dogs should be watched extra carefully. These guys move a little bit more slowly and are prone to arthritis. They have a more difficult time walking on ice and one fall could cause serious damage. They have a more difficult time regulating their body temperature as well.
What To Do if it Happens
If you found that your pet has frostbite or hypothermia the best thing to do is to bring them into a warm, dry area and administer first aid. Once you feel it is safe for them to travel you can take them to a trusted Vet.
Next, you want to bring their core temperature up to minimum 100 degrees Fahrenheit. You can do this by wrapping them in warm dry towels or blankets. Water bottles filled with warm water placed near your pet can aide in warming them up. If you suspect frostbite you will need to thaw these areas with lukewarm water, not hot. These areas will be painful for your pet, do not rub them but you will need to dry them gently.
I always advise any person who is administering first aid to an animal should muzzle them. This is for protection for the animal and the person. Even if the animal is your own, animals in pain can bite out of fear. If any areas become dark and flaky you will want to seek veterinary attention immediately.
Seek veterinary help no matter what, but if you can administer first aid to make it safe for them to travel.