Frigid winter weather is in full effect, making it necessary to be more conscious of your pet’s exposure to the elements. Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals offers these 10 tips for keeping your pet safe and healthy during the deep freeze.
1. Keeping your pet indoors during freezing temperatures is essential in preventing frostbite. Let your pets outside only to relieve themselves, and if you have an active pet, make sure to keep them on a leash. Running makes pets more prone to slipping, which could cause injury. If pets run away once off the leash, they can lose their scent and get lost.
2. Young and old pets are more sensitive to extreme temperatures, just like human babies and seniors.
3. Water will freeze in temperatures under 32 degrees. If your pet is outdoors, consistently replenish its water source or break the ice to expose fresh water.
4. In cold weather, increase your pet’s feeding amount. The extra calories will keep them warm.
5. Never shave your pets during the winter. Fur is essential to keep them warm, and if they have short hair, consider dressing them in a fitted jacket.
6. To avoid hypothermia, make sure your pet is completely dry before taking them out in the cold.
7. Always wipe your pet’s feet and undercarriage before bringing them in the house to avoid ingestion of toxic salts, antifreeze and other chemicals.
8. Clean up spilled antifreeze (ethylene glycol). Standard antifreeze is highly toxic once ingested, but attracts animals because it smells and tastes sweet to them. Try switching to products made from propylene glycol, which is non toxic and works as well as regular antifreeze.
9. Dogs left outside must be provided with breed-appropriate shelter. Doghouses must include a permanent structure, waterproof roof, sufficient insulation, space to make normal postural movements, and separation from excess dirt, trash and waste.
10. Always bang the hood and fenders of your car before driving or starting the engine. Cats are likely to seek shelter and the warmth of an engine by hiding underneath the engine or atop tires.
For more pet safety tips or to volunteer, visit the Suffolk SPCA at suffolkspca.org.