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Help dogs and other pets stay safe in the winter

Help dogs and other pets stay safe in the winter

January 30th, 2019 by Kevin Labotka in Local News

In this March 26, 2011 photo, a few very cold daffodils peek through about three inches of snow.

Photo by David Wilson

Here are some tips to make sure that pets stay safe during the winter.

Local Veterinarian Dr. Roger Borgmeyer at the California Veterinary Clinic said the smaller breeds of dogs are more likely to need extra protection from the cold.

"The smaller breeds are in the house all the time and are not used to the outside," Borgmeyer said. "The bigger breed dogs generally have their winter fur and are acclimated to it and don't need a sweater."

When choosing if it is cold enough to give the dog a sweater, Borgmeyer said it depends on the individual dog. Borgmeyer said to look to see if the dog is shivering to decide if it is time to put the sweater on.

Here are some other helpful tips:

Update all vaccinations such as Rabies, DHLP, Parvovirus, Coronavirus and Bordetella. Cats should receive FERCP, Rabies, Feline Leukemia and FIP.

Heartworm preventive medicine should be given year-round.

Internal parasite examinations insure your pet is "worm-free."

Feed high quality food to meet the increased nutritional needs during cold weather. High protein labels do not mean it is digestible protein. Pets kept outside should be fed more food to meet their needs through the winter. Fresh water should always be available. Be sure to provide unfrozen water at least twice daily during zero weather. Porcelain bowls will prevent tongues from sticking to it. Avoid metal bowls for this reason.

Vitamin supplements such as Pet Tabs for dogs and Nutrical for cats increase your pet's resistance to the effects of cold weather and provide needed nutritional elements that often deteriorate once a bag of food has been open.

Brush your pet daily to maintain its hair coat.

Provide adequate shelter. Providing adequate shelter from the elements is the key to a healthy outdoor pet. Pet shelters should be tightly constructed and no larger than three times the size of the pet. The doorway should be just large enough for the pet to enter and be positioned away from the prevailing wind direction. Building the shelter off the ground a couple of inches and adding insulation underneath will greatly add to the pet's comfort. Make sure all insulation is sealed away from the pet. Position the shelter where it will get the most sunlight in the winter. Cedar Shavings make the best bedding. No pet should be out in zero or sub-zero weather for more than a few minutes without adequate shelter. Winter is no time to begin keeping a pet outside.

Antifreeze can be lethal. It is sweet tasting to your pet. Always clean up any spills in the garage or driveway. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect even a "few licks" by the pet.

Cats sleep close to warm car engines. Know the location of your car and honk your horn before starting the car.

Chocolate can be fatal. Keep those one pound chocolate kisses away from your pet.

Salt can hurt paws. Clean the footpads immediately when coming back inside. Dry skin (dandruff) is a result of dry heat in the house. Keep the pet brushed. The clinic has proper skin moisturizers and food supplements. Avoid over-the-counter products.