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Being Aware of Winter Pet Health Hazards

Pets, just like people, are vulnerable to cold weather. There are precautions a pet owner can and should take to keep their pet safe during the cold winter season.
 
Anti-freeze and de-icing agents are tempting to pets because they have a sweet flavor. These chemicals are almost always toxic to pets. Regularly check your vehicle’s cooling system for leaks and choose pet-safe anti-freeze; you’ll be going a long way towards keeping all the neighborhood pets safe.
 
During cold weather, a cat may be drawn to the warm engine of a recently parked car. Before starting your car, give your horn a quick honk to startle a cat out of the car’s engine area.

Make sure your pet has plenty of food and water.  Pets that are outdoors in cold weather will burn extra calories to keep warm. Small amounts of water easily freeze in cold temperatures so be sure to refill water dishes daily to prevent dehydration problems.

Despite the cold temperatures, dogs still need to be taken outside for walks regardless of the weather. Instead of long walks, pet owners should consider taking their dogs on shorter walks more frequently. Smaller dogs and dogs with very short fur may need to wear coats while outdoors since they are not able to retain body heat in the same way as dogs with longer fur.
Even dog breeds bred for cold conditions still need special consideration. When the ground is extremely cold, frost bite on paws, ears and noses can be a concern. Dog boots or other foot coverings may be needed if snow and ice last for weeks.
 
Pets still need exercise, even in inclement weather. Cats can usually be enticed to play with interesting toys. A long hallway can be used for a small game of fetch. Teaching a dog a new trick will keep it mentally stimulated as well as strengthening the bond between dog and owner. Dogs love to play fetch. Excessive rain or melting snow can create muddy conditions. An enthusiastic dog chasing a ball can easily slip in the mud, which can potentially result in injury to the back or knees. Slips and falls are especially dangerous for large dog breeds or breeds that experience knee or spinal issues. Restrict vigorous games of fetch to days when the ground is dry.
 
With the right steps and precautions, your pet should have no problems this winter season.


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