The Houston SPCA advises all pet owners to keep their pets indoors due to the unpredictable weather conditions. Here are some tips to help keep your pets safe this winter:
Always provide proper shelter for your pet. Indoor pets should have their bed or crate placed in a safe and warm area, away from drafts. Room and floor heaters should be kept away from your pet as they are a fire hazard and can cause serious injury. Outdoor pets should have a well-insulated house that is wind-resistant/waterproof, as well as elevated off the ground. Install a door flap to protect against gusts of wind. Extra blankets will also help increase your pet’s warmth.
Never leave your pet in a car. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter and even leaving your pet for a small amount of time can be deadly as they could freeze to death.
Keep your cats indoors! During the winter, cats may sleep under the hood of cars to stay warm. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. Give an outdoor cat a chance to escape by banging loudly on the car hood before starting your car.
If you have a short-haired breed of dog, consider getting him/her a sweater with a high collar or turtleneck, with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly, to keep warm. Never shave your dog down to the skin in the winter months as a longer coat will provide more warmth.
When taking care of your car’s winter needs, please remember to store all chemicals properly. Dogs and cats are attracted to the sweet smell and taste of antifreeze which contains ethylene glycol. A tiny lick can kill your dog or cat, so make sure to check your car for leaks on your driveway and in your garage. Keep containers tightly closed and clean up spills immediately.
Feed your pets nourishing, store-bought food every day, not table scraps. Also make sure they always have fresh water to drink. Talk to your veterinarian about increasing your pet’s diet to accommodate for the colder winter months.
Rat and mouse poisons are commonly used during the winter months. Place them out of reach as they can cause fatal bleeding or kidney failure in your pet.
If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him/her outdoors only to relieve himself/herself. Check with your veterinarian if you have questions about your pet’s tolerance of the cold weather.
Keep telephone numbers for your veterinarian and a local emergency veterinary service in a convenient location.