Just around the time we are wrapping up from the busyness of the holiday season, we start to think about what we need to do to prepare for winter. From getting out the snow gear, finding the shovels and car scrapers, and digging out the warmest sweaters and blankets, winter necessitates some predictable preparations each year. Most people are aware of pet safety concerns over the summer months, but it is important to keep in mind that the cold weather poses its own risks for our pets. Read on to find out how you can protect your pet through the cold winter season.
Take this with a Grain (or two) of Salt
Let's face it, few people enjoy going for frigid walks, but when your best friend has four legs and asks you very nicely (and persistently), you might find yourself out on walks more than you would prefer. While most dogs enjoy being outside in every season, there are some dangers they might encounter this winter, one of which is ice melt or ice salt. Ice melt, if ingested, can cause some very unpleasant GI symptoms in dogs. It doesn't take much more than a few licks to cause discomfort for your pooch, so be sure you stock up on pet-safe specific ice melt products only and keep a short leash on walks to prevent your dog from eating unsafe substances along the way.
During the warmer months, you might not notice signs of arthritis in your pet, but the cold weather can exacerbate stiffness and pain and make existing arthritis even worse, so it is helpful to be on the alert for the warning signs. Some of the more common symptoms of arthritis are decreased activity, trouble or slowness going up or down stairs, limping, or trouble running. If you notice any of these or other physical changes in your pet, give us a call so that we can discuss options. Pets often hide signs of discomfort, but there are plenty of treatment options if arthritis is making them uncomfortable, so don't wait to get them some help.
"Some of the more common symptoms of arthritis are decreased activity, trouble or slowness going up or down stairs, limping, or trouble running."
Microchips, Collars, and Tags, Oh My
Did you know that roughly 14% of cats and 15% of dogs will be lost at least once in a 5-year time frame? Winter can make it especially challenging for a lost pet to find their way home as scents on the ground that could help them navigate familiar territory are covered or more difficult to find. Animals that are lost during cold weather also face substantial health risks in cold temperatures if not found quickly. Many times, pet parents don't think twice, especially over winter, about their pets' ID tags or microchips, but it is important to be sure your pet has proper identification. The best ID forms are microchips which, unlike collars and tags, can't get snagged or fall off if your pet escapes. ID tags and collars, while not failsafe, are also very helpful if your pet goes missing. Whatever method of identification you have in place for your pet, be sure that addresses and contact info are kept up to date.
Food and Medications - Don't Get Left Out in the Cold
Though we don't usually like to think about winter storms and the impact they have on our day-to-day life, most winters in the northeast bring at least a few snowfalls that affect our ability to get out and about easily for at least a few days. We often joke about the lack of bread, milk, and eggs on store shelves in the days leading up to a major winter storm, but often forget to think about our pet's essentials until the last minute. It is always helpful, but especially during the unpredictable winter months, to ensure you have an adequate supply of pet food and medications on hand to last through any winter weather that may crop up. Don't wait till the last minute to stock up on your pet's essentials so that you can both weather out winter storms with everything you need at hand from the comfort of inside your home.
" It is always helpful, but especially during the unpredictable winter months, to ensure you have an adequate supply of pet food and medications on hand"
A Moment on the Lips
Let's face it, exercise and winter don't often go hand-in-hand. From handouts at parties to goodies in stockings, pets often make out quite well in the food department over the holidays. This, combined with a lack of activity as the temperatures drop, can lead to some increases in the weight department for cats and dogs alike. Those extra pounds add up quickly and often go unnoticed but can have a significant impact on your pet's health. Maintaining a healthy weight decreases your cat’s or dog’s risk of diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, kidney disease and even some forms of cancer. It can also reduce the chance of certain musculoskeletal injuries. Keeping your pet a healthy weight extends their life expectancy by an average of two years, so keeping them trim really does have significant health benefits. If you think your pet's weight might be creeping up, start by getting an up-to-date weight, either at home or at our office, and ask us for their ideal weight so you can make any necessary lifestyle changes.
"Maintaining a healthy weight decreases your cat’s or dog’s risk of diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, kidney disease and even some forms of cancer"
All Wrapped Up
Winter can be an enjoyable season but does present some safety challenges when it comes to our pets. From toxins to arthritis to weight gain, keeping an eye on how your pet is doing and making small lifestyle changes can go a long way to keeping them in the best shape possible. If you have any concerns about how your pet is doing as we enter winter, we are always here and ready to answer your questions, so give us a call or stop by to talk to us. Our team is committed to helping you provide the best care possible for your animal family no matter how cold the weather forecast might be.
PERKIOMENVILLE 1335 N. Gravel Pike, Perkiomenville, PA 18074 Telephone: 610-287-5100
SOUDERTON 201 North Main Street, Souderton, PA 18964 Telephone: 215-660-3699