melynda blosser

Morgantown, United States

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pet care

Top Ten Cold Weather Tips

Brrrr…it’s cold outside! The following guidelines will help you protect your companion animals when the mercury dips.

1. Keep your cat inside. Outdoors, felines can freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed. Cats who are allowed to stray are exposed to infectious diseases, including rabies, from other cats, dogs and wildlife.

2. During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.

3. Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm—dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.

4. Thoroughly wipe off your dog’s legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.

5. Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk. Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.

6. Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.

7. Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.

8. Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him—and his fur—in tip-top shape.

9. Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center more information.

10. Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.
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Hidden Danger: Keep Your Pet Safe from Electric Shock

DogWinter’s chill may have settled in your neighborhood, but your energetic pooch still wants to go for walks in the great outdoors. Take it slow and steady, pet parents. According to our experts, the danger of stray voltage on city streets can turn a simple stroll into a devastating event for our furry friends.

Most common in northern climes and urban areas, stray voltage occurs when dormant utilities leak excess electricity. Combined with wet streets and salt-based ice melts, this current can shock, injure or even prove fatal for those in its path. “Since salt used to treat icy streets is a great conductor of electricity,” says Dr. Louise Murray, ASPCA Director of Medicine and author of Vet Confidential, “the risk of shock from stray voltage is that much higher during the winter months.” The ASPCA offers the following tips to help you avoid potentially hazardous areas, and advice on what to do if your pet has suffered an electrical shock:

  • Keep your dog away from metal fixtures, such as lampposts, grates or manhole covers. While these spots may be your pet’s favorite place to relieve himself, they may also conduct hazardous electricity.
  • Your dog’s snazzy, rubber rain boots may look good, but they won’t protect your pooch from a strong current. Don’t depend on them to keep your pet safe. Some boots—those with metal studs, for example—may even make the situation worse.
  • Observe your dog’s behavior. Is he skittish, frightened, angry or upset for no apparent reason? These sudden behavioral changes could be an indication of electric shock.
  • If your dog is incapacitated due to shock, don’t try to touch or move him without protective gear. Your pooch may pass the current to you, rendering you both incapable of seeking help. Instead, call your local fire department immediately.

Journal Comments

  • Dawn B Davies-McIninch
  • frogster
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