Although we live in a very favorable climate for our Greys, many of our adopters live in colder climates or move north out of lovely warm Florida. Since we work with many northern adoption agencies, this may help some of our northern adopters in caring for their Greys when the weather dips into the freezing zone.
For most people, preparing for the winter can be as simple as unpacking the winter coat, long underwear and sweaters and simple bundling up when heading outside. For the four-legged members of the family however, more than a few wardrobe changes are necessary to make it through the harsh weather that lies ahead.
Because animals often love to go outdoors it can be hard to tell whether or not winter weather is negatively affecting the family pet. That makes it all the more important that pet owners pay particular attention and take certain precautions when pets take to the great outdoors this season.
Limit outdoor times: While it can seem as though your pet is growing restless indoors during the colder months, time spent outside should be limited. When the temperature is below freezing, frostbite and hypothermia can occur within minutes in some dogs. Typically, dogs with low body fat and a thin coat are most susceptible to these conditions.
Frostbite symptoms include swollen skin, a pinkish discoloration of the skin and blistering of the skin within a few days after the frostbite settled in. In general, frostbite will occur on the tips of ears, tail and feet.
Symptoms of hypothermia tend to be reflected in the animal’s attitude and behavior. Mental dullness, unresponsiveness, depression, and even loss of consciousness can be the result of hyperthermia
Keep pets away from the garage and driveway: During the winter, vehicles need antifreeze to combat the cold weather. Should antifreeze leak onto a driveway or garage floor, it is potentially lethal to pets who are attracted to the taste. Even if only a small amount of antifreeze is ingested by a pet, that’s all it takes to destroy the animal’s kidneys. Initially, exposure to antifreeze will show itself through disorientation and general stupor. The next step could be coma or death. Be sure that pets aren’t exposed to antifreeze by cleaning up spills, placing antifreeze containers out of pets’ reach and keeping animals away from the driveway or garage throughout the winter.
Clean your pet’s paws once you head back inside: Many people use chemical-based solutions to remove ice and snow from sidewalks, and lots of municipalities use these solutions on the streets as well. Unfortunately, these chemicals can be harmful to pets. Once a pet walks on those solutions, the chemicals tend to stick to a pet’s paws. Many pet owners notice that during the winter months, pets begin to lick their paws the moment they return indoors. This is because the solutions tend to have a sweet taste to pets but if ingested can be harmful. If you don’t have covers to place on your pet's feet, be sure to rinse off any chemicals the moment you and your pet arrive home from a walk.
Keep water as available as it is during the summer months: Many pet owners assume a pet doesn’t need as much water in the winter as it does in the summer when the temperature is warmer. However, pets can become dehydrated in the winter as well. Because dehydration accelerates frostbites and hypothermia, keep fresh water available for pets throughout the day. Don’t assume that because your dog is eating snow during a walk that it is sufficient water. Snow requires ample body heat to digest and accelerates dehydration.
Feed pets a healthy diet: Calories are a good friend to pets during the winter because pets generate body heat by burning fat. Many generic dog foods are’t healthy for pets in the winter because they don’t provide a sufficient amount of calories for a pet to generate the kind of body heat they need to stay warm.