So, we are just a few weeks into winter, and Canada has seen a particularly cold one this year. Sure, the days are getting longer but they are also getting colder (for the time being). I would guess that you spend some time every year thinking about how you can prepare your home for winter, but have you thought about winter hazards for your dogs and cats. Even in the warmest areas of Canada, winter generally brings cold, wet weather that can be troubling for our four-legged friends. Moreover, as humans we struggle to adjust to the darker days and frigid temperatures, and this often interferes with pet care. As such, our dogs and cats get less exercise but there are other concerns affecting our pets. So what are some of the winter hazards for dogs and cats?
One of the most common problems veterinarians see after winter is paw irritation in cats and dogs. Whether sidewalks, roads, and driveways have been salted, sanded, or exposed to other de-icing chemicals, or simply the colder temperatures of surfaces are at play, dogs and cats paws can become very red and sore. Indeed, salt and de-icing chemicals can become trapped in your pet’s bare pads and cause serious inflammation. So, after your winter walks, you should always be sure to carefully wipe your pet’s paws with a damp cloth to remove any de-icer that gets stuck to their feet.
Also, remember that dogs and cats will groom themselves which means they’ll be licking their paws and may ingest dangerous chemicals. For the most part, these chemicals are present in small amounts so there is little danger, but animals that are prone to allergies, dermatitis, or other pre-existing conditions may need you to clean their paws more thoroughly. You can carefully wash each paw in a container of water that you leave by the door, and then dry each paw carefully.
Another winter hazard, especially for dogs is antifreeze. During winter months we need antifreeze to keep our cars running properly and reduce the effects of freezing temperatures. You should always store antifreeze appropriately, and out of reach of cats and dogs; but you should also be aware that car leaks (on your property, but even in public places) can contaminate your garage, roads, and puddles. Moreover, because antifreeze has a sweet flavour, dogs will drink it happily. Always discourage pets from drinking water from puddles.
Cold Weather Exercise
Even if you live in a temperate climate, winter weather can drop temperatures enough that cats and dogs need to expend a lot of energy to maintain their body temperature. If you enjoy long walks or hikes in the snow, be sure to bring snacks along to ensure your pet maintains proper energy levels.