The Ultimate Winter Pet Health Guide: Don’t Leave Your Pets Out In The Cold
Now many of us always think that with December over the weather will improve and it will get warmer. Sadly that’s often not the case and January / February do tend to be even colder than December in many cases!!!
Prevention is better than cure, so keeping an eye on your pet’s weight and behaviour could help to indicate if there are any issues brought on by the change in the weather.
1. Protect your pets’ paws
Chemicals used to melt snow and ice, along with grit and mud, can be very irritating to your pets paw pads, and if left unwashed can cause a burning sensation which you’ll notice will leave your dog gnawing at its paws or your cat frantically licking their paw. Therefore, it is essential to regularly bathe paws after a cold winter walk to remove these irritants along with any bugs or bacteria that can easily get into the skin causing further problems at this time of year. But what do you do if you can’t bath your pets paws easily?
Now us from Katzenworld have got a great recommendation for this… one that while initially intended for dogs may also work for cats! It’s called the PawPlunger that’s sold and distributed by PerAnimal and when we met the team to talk about cat products… we couldn’t help but notice the huge benefit this adds to day to day life of us and our animal companions. Now that it’s winter antifreeze poses a huge risk to the wellbeing of our dogs and cats alike and many pet guardians don’t realise the huge impact this can have on the health of our pets. Instead of having to bath your pets’ paws to remove the chemicals you simply plunge your pets’ paws into the PawPlunger. Simply add warm water to the top row of bristles, insert a dirty paw, gently moving it in and out of the plunger while the bristles wash away the dirt. Use a towel to dry each soggy foot and pour away dirty water.
Now you are probably thinking… that’s great works for the dogs but no chance this will work for cats! Well we’ve talked with a cat behaviourist about this and while it may not work easily for all cats the tip is to make the water warmer, not hot that it burns you but think of a nice hot bath. The core temperature of cats is much higher than ours at 101.4 degrees Fahrenheit – about 38.6 degrees Celsius and most cats only get scared by water because it simply gives them a cold shock. Also… cats that go outside and are the ones in need of having dangerous chemicals removed from their paws are most likely very used to getting their paws wet from stepping into mud and puddles!
The trick with cats is to make sure you take it slowly and reward your cat with a high impact reward afterwards so they know they will get rewarded for letting you take care of this for them. What reward to use will depend on your cat… some may simply want to be brushed others may need a meaty treat! Know what your cat likes.
And remember… antifreeze is HIGHLY toxic to cats and as little as a teaspoon can kill your cat so if you let your cat go outside and you know people might have been defrosting their pathways, road or cats you must ensure to clean their paws one way or another or else they may lick this of their paws. We will this year also be working with a number of volunteers to try the PawPlunger with their cats as they’ve all had incidents with their cats stepping into toxic chemicals while outside and thus have ever since been washing their paws.
The Everyday Muddy Paw Solution – designed with you and your fur baby in mind, the plunger cleans your dog’s paws quickly, reducing indoor mess and floor stains, and preventing paw irritation from contaminate.
2. Lock away the anti-freeze
Now this brings us to the important point… If you value your pet do not use anti-freeze that is toxic to them. Cats especially are often attracted to anti-freeze because it’s said to possess a sweet taste however, exposure to anti-freeze, particularly for cats, is exceptionally dangerous and in some circumstances can cause kidney failure and death. If your cat starts to display any signs of ill health including sudden weight loss, diarrhoea and vomiting, pay an immediate visit to your vet. If you must use antifreeze look for petsafe alternatives which will cost a little more but will help to protect our animal companions.
3. Be mindful of the risk of hypothermia
Although it differs between breeds and ages, pets can suffer from hypothermia too, so be mindful of the amount of time your pet spends outdoors and how active it is during freezing temperatures. If you notice that your pet has pale gums and pale inner eyelids, these are two signs that your pet could be suffering from hypothermia. Ensure your pet is kept warm in cold weather and if you suspect they have become too cold, speak to your veterinary practice and treat your pet as you would a human, by feeding them warm liquids and wrapping them in warm blankets.
4. Ensure all your pets are up-to-date with tick and flea treatments
Despite us often thinking fleas are more of a problem in summer, due to warmer winter temperatures and central heating, there is still a risk that your pet can catch fleas all year round. Therefore, practicing continual year-round flea protection is key to not only keeping your pet healthy but also to avoid any flea infestations in the home throughout winter.
5. Keep an eye on food consumption
Making sure your pet maintains a healthy weight throughout the winter is also very important, and while it’s often true that an extra layer can help protect pets from the cold, this should come from a coat and not an additional layer of fat. Cold temperatures can sometimes prompt lazy behaviour and therefore the need for fewer calories. However, at the same time, you should also be monitoring your pet for any signs of unusual weight loss too. If you have any concerns about your pet’s weight, be it either weight gain or loss, then speak to your veterinary practice team for further advice.
6. Providing a warm place for your pet
We all like to “curl” up in a warm space this time of the year don’t we? Well our pets are no different! When it gets cold they will gravitate to a human lap or a warm spot in front of the radiator. Of course there is also the option of obtaining a heated pad for them to create a nice warm and safe enviroment in their favourite place. When it comes to choosing a heated pad ALWAYS make sure that you pick one that’s got enough safety features in place. Many of the cheap heat pads on the market will not have a thermostat and will often get too hot too quickly. A good alternative that is safe would be the Pet Remedy Heatpad which will on the pricier side of things comes with 2 build-in thermostats for extra safety and heats up slowly so not too overheat your pet. Additionally, it is fixed to not get hotter than your pets optimal temperature.
We hope you found these tips helpful and let us know if we’ve missed any of your top tips.