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Cold Weather Tips for Pets

Cold Weather Tips for Pets

Brrr! It’s that time of year when the temperatures plummet to uncomfortable lows. Our pets may despise this cold weather even more than we do. Here are a couple helpful tips to ensure your pet is safe and comfortable.

Clothing

Short-haired, thin, elderly, or sick pets may benefit from wearing a coat or sweater during cold weather. This may allow them to stay outside long enough to do their necessary business. Having your pet wear booties outside can protect their feet not only from the cold, but also from sharp edges of the ice, rock salt, and other chemicals.

Grooming & Bathing

Clipping the extra fur between the toe pads can reduce the accumulation of snow which can cause limping, sores, etc. Many pets have dry skin and a dull fur coat in the winter due to dryness. Brushing your pet can improve quality of their fur coat by dispersing the natural oils of the skin and increasing circulation. Adding an Omega-3 fatty acid to their diet or running a humidifier in your home can help improve their coat as well. Thick-coated dogs typically need more grooming in cold weather. The fur can get wet and matted, which can be irritating. Clean, well maintained fur holds air in a manner similar to layering clothes, thus helping the animal stay warm. After bathing, make sure your pet is completely dry before going outside. Instead of bathing your pet, dry shampoos are a convenient alternative.

See our blog titled “The Importance of Grooming”

Rock salt or Ice Melt Chemicals

If your pet is exposed to areas where rock salt or other ice melting chemicals are used, it is helpful to rinse off their feet when they come inside. Pets can get sores on their feet which can lead to infections. According to the Pet Poison Hotline, ingesting ice melting products can cause vomiting and diarrhea in low doses. In exceptionally high doses these products can cause depression, tremors, disorientation, loss of appetite, increased water consumption, seizures and death. There are products on the market made specifically to be safe for pets. Otherwise, sand and kitty litter can also be used for traction.

Snow Removal

Think of your furry friend when shoveling and clear a spot out of the deep snow for them to potty. They might not be able to tell you, but you know they will appreciate it. You can make it fun by shoveling fun paths or a maze in the yard for them to navigate.

Eating Snow or Drinking from Puddles

Antifreeze, coolant, and windshield wiper fluid can be harmful to pets. These chemicals often accumulate with melting snow into puddles, which can be ingested by pets either by drinking the puddles or licking their feet. Clean up any spills and discourage pets from drinking from puddles.

Frostbite

Brief exposure to sub-zero temperatures can lead to frostbite on sensitive areas such as the feet, nose or ears. Frost-bitten skin can appear red, gray or whitish and may start to peel off.  If you suspect frostbite, bring your pet in to a warm place and apply warm (not hot), clean, moist towels. Change the towels frequently. Continue until the affected areas become flushed. Contact your veterinarian for further care.

Weight Gain

Due to lack of exercise, pets often gain weight during winter months. Decreasing their calorie intake or increasing their indoor activity can help them maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight can cause or intensify health problems such as arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease.

See our blog on “Exercising Your Dog in Winter”

Check your Engines

Outdoor cats and wild animals tend to climb up into cars to seek warmth from the engine. Banging on the hood of your car or honking the horn before starting the engine can warn animals and scare them off.

Heaters, Fireplaces, & Candles

Your pet can be at risk of burns to themselves or causing household fires. They can knock over portable heaters or candles, or get too close to fireplaces. Placing a screen in front of fireplaces, keep heaters and candles up out of reach, and don’t leave pets unattended around these heat sources.

Feral Cats

Consider putting out shelter for feral cats in your area. There are many how-to videos on Youtube and other resources online for building shelters. Just a tote with some insulation such as clean, dry straw or a Styrofoam cooler can provide some protection from the elements and predators.

For more information and helpful tips follow our blog. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, give us a call at 444-5797.

The Importance of Grooming

The Importance of Grooming

New poodle mixed breeds have quickly gained popularity in recent years. Goldendoodles, Labradoodles, Cocka-poos, Yorkie-poos, Cava-poos, Malti-poos. It’s no wonder they are sought after since they are so adorable. We have seen many new poodle mixes patients lately. We would like to take a moment to remind owners of the importance of good grooming, since we tend see patients for issues caused by improper grooming.

Mats

Matted hair on the body can hide medical issues. A small abrasion or cut hidden underneath can become a bigger problem if left untreated. Matted hair traps moisture next to the skin which encourages bacterial growth, leading to a larger skin infection we call a “hot spot”. These are often treated by clipping the hair, cleaning the infected skin, and topical and or oral antibiotics.

Ears

Yeast and bacteria thrive in dark, damp environments. A hairy ear canal is just such a place. Plucking the hair from the ears and trimming around them lets the air flow more freely in and out. This reduces the likelihood of ear infections. After baths or swimming, it is helpful to dry the ears. For dogs with frequent ear issues, maintenance cleaning may be necessary.

Eyes

Trimming around the eyes is often missed but particularly important. Normal eye tearing and discharge can accumulate in the inner corners of the eye. Mixing with hair, it dries and forms crusty mats. If not removed, these mats can irritate the skin and allow infection to take hold.

Nails

People often dread trimming their pet’s nails as it can be stressful for both pet and owner. It doesn’t have to be. With a little work and positive reinforcement, you can both get through it alive. Start young, play with their feet often. Save the good treats for nail trim time. Distract them with peanut butter. Make it a fun and rewarding experience. Or if you just can’t handle it, bring them to a groomer or veterinary clinic for trimming.

Imagine not trimming your toenails ever and trying to fit them in your shoes. Long nails can be uncomfortable for pets. In extreme cases nails will grow around into the paw pads causing pain and infection. Trimming the excess hair on your dog’s feet can make nail trims easier. Hairy feet can be more slippery on smoother surfaces. In winter, snow and ice can accumulate on the hair between the toes causing discomfort and possible injury.

Rear End

Keeping your pet’s rear end trimmed can prevent medical issues. We often see feces stuck on the hair around the anus. In severe cases, it can inhibit the pet from passing stool. This can also lead to skin infection around the area. Trimming around the vulva keeps it cleaner and drier, reducing the probability of vaginitis and skin & urinary tract infections.

When to start?

First and foremost, make sure they are healthy and vaccinated properly. Acclimating puppies to the grooming process early can make it much easier down the road. Start brushing them, playing with their feet, and making them cooperate with being handled. Makes it positive with treats and praise. Call ahead and consult with your groomer for recommendations. Each groomer may have certain age, vaccination, and appointment requirements.

You go to the mechanic for your car, the plumber for your sink, and the lawyer when you are in legal trouble. Groomers have been specifically educated and trained in the art of pet hair care. If you want advice, consult a groomer instead of Facebook or Google. It is much easier (and likely less expensive) to do it right the first time than to try and fix a mistake.