Protection for Pets

Cold temperatures with snow can be difficult for the family pet. Chico, an eight-year-old chihuahua, wears a protective vest while outdoors in the winter months.

As colder weather blows in, talk of pet safety awareness is on the rise.

With temperatures reaching into the single digits, the American Veterinary Medical Association warns of the serious threats that could be posed towards pets. The tolerance of animals to the cold weather is based on several things including their coat, size, body fat stores, activity and overall health condition.

The AVMA urges pet owners to shorten the time that their animals spend outside on walks or using the bathroom and shouldn’t be let to run free. Fencing animals in or keeping them inside is said to be important in keeping your pet safe so they don’t get lost in freezing conditions. Check dog’s paws for cracked paw pads or bleeding caused by ice accumulation on or between their toes. Dry sweaters, coats and properly sized booties are recommended to help keep your pet warm when they spend time outside.

Keeping your pet at a healthy weight during the cold weather is important. The AVMA warns of overfeeding animals to increase their weight because of the health risks that could stem from it. Outdoor pets, however, will require a higher calorie intake during winter to maintain heat and energy levels and local veterinarians can be contacted to help understand pet’s needs in the cold weather.

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Pets and livestock need adequate access to drinking water to maintain strength but during the winter months, it is considered crucial to monitor water sources in case they are frozen or not accessible.

Antifreeze or other chemicals that could be toxic are likely to be picked up when pets are outside, so it is advised that you check your pet when it comes back inside before they have a chance to lick chemicals off.

More information can be found at www.avma.org under public resources. If you have a pet emergency, it is advised that you contact a local veterinarian or animal emergency center.

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