Winter Health Tips for Pets

Take extra care in the winter months to keep your pets healthy and safe.

There are several health tips that are important to keep in mind when trying to keep our pets healthy during the winter season.  For those pets normally kept indoors, it is especially important not to leave them outside, as well as to make sure they are warm, dry, and away from cold drafts.   You may wish to consider clothing these pets with pet sweaters, especially those with thin hair coats, who are more likely to suffer the effects of harsh winter temperatures.

While fireplaces are increasingly used, animal guardians also must take precautions with pets so that they don’t get burned if they lie too close.  During winter months, pets may also need extra calories to help replace heat lost through body metabolism in keeping core temperatures stable.  It is important, however, not to give extra fatty holiday treats that may lead to pancreatitis, or potential toxins such as grapes, raisins and chocolate.

Holiday decorative plants, including holly and poinsettia also may be toxic if ingested.   For those traveling with pets, make sure not to leave pets alone in very cold cars.  For those pets that spend a lot of time outside, it may be helpful to have a pet door leading into the home as well.

Specially developed igloos may also be of use during the cold weather. I highly recommend warm, insulated shelters that are elevated off the ground. This is especially important with cats, who will often seek out shelter inside car engines during the cold winter months.   It is often better to take pets on shorter more frequent walks during the winter months, in order to prevent prolonged exposure to cold temperatures.

Animal guardians also need to be careful around lakes, streams and ponds that often ice over, and which present environmental hazards to both people and pets.   Other environmental factors to be careful with include careful monitoring around antifreeze chemicals, which often are very tasty to companion animals, and which may lead to digestive upset and acute kidney failure. During the winter months, pets also may be exposed to rock salt used on area roads and sidewalks. Some dogs are quite sensitive to rock salt, which may lead to dry, cracked or ulcerated paw pads.  I will often recommend topical products including vitamin E, aloe vera, and dilute green tea, which can often soothe inflamed and cracked skin.

Old arthritic pets also may need extra care during winter months, as this is the time of year when old, creaky painful joints may flare up.  These pets may benefit from various medical treatments, including dietary supplements such as Super Joint Enhancer, Proanthozone, Super Pure Omega 3 and Yucca Intensive.

Is your pet ready for the cold winter months?

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