Cold Weather Pet Care
In Chicago, winter is a season of bitter cold and numbing wetness. Help your pets remain happy and healthy during the colder months by following these simple guidelines:
Don't leave dogs outdoors when the temperature drops. Most dogs, and all cats, are safer indoors, except when taken out for exercise. Regardless of the season, short-haired, very young or old dogs and all cats should never be left outside without supervision. Short-coated dogs may feel more comfortable wearing a sweater during walks. No matter what the temperature, windchill can threaten a pet's life. A dog or cat is happiest and healthiest when kept indoors.
Clip long fur between the toes and pads to prevent uncomfortable ice balls from forming while walking in the snow. The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet's feet. If you don't have dog booties, apply petroleum jelly or commercially-available organic wax balms for dogs to the paw pads for protection. Wipe the feet with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates his/her mouth.
Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but has a sweet taste that may attract animals and children. Wipe up spills and store antifreeze (and all household chemicals) out of reach. Better yet, used antifreeze-coolant made with propylene glycol; if swallowed in small amounts, it will not hurt pets, wildlife, or your family.
Warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife, who may crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car's hood to scare them away before starting your engine.
Don’t leave pets in the car. Cold weather can create “a freezer-like environment’’ inside a car that’s turned off. During the winter, limit travel with your pet to only that which is necessary. If pets must come along, they shouldn’t be let alone in the vehicle even for short spells.
Chicago Animal Care and Control Strongly Recommends Keeping Companion Animals Inside Your Home!
Probably the best prescription for winter's woes is to keep your dog or cat inside with you and your family. The happiest dogs are those who are taken out frequently for walks and exercise but kept inside the rest of the time. Dogs and cats are social animals who crave human companionship. Your animal companions deserve to live indoors with you and your family.