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There's snow in the forecast - protect your pets!

There's snow in the forecast - protect your pets!

Credit: KING

by Cary Waterhouse DVM

Posted on January 11, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 11 at 11:12 AM

With sea-level snow in the weekend forecast for the first time this season, it’s time to start thinking again about protecting our pets from the cold.  Take a minute or two now to make sure your four-legged friend (and those that fly, slither, or swim) are ready for an ‘Arctic Blast’!

Winter wardrobe
It takes more than a little snow and ice to stop our dogs from wanting to get outside for some play time.  Just make sure that you protect them from the chill (especially the short-coated breeds).  Coats and wraps are available at most pet stores – ranging from bare bones basic to high-fashion.  Just remember to take off a coat or blanket upon returning home – it is easy for an excited dog to overheat!  And don’t forget their feet!  Outdoor outfitters like REI sell booties appropriate for long walks in the snow and ice.

Fuel the fire within
Exercising in the cold can take its toll on an animal – especially if they do not get the extra calories it will take to keep warm.  Plan to give your pet a little extra food if they are spending time in the cold – just make sure not to OVER supplement, or provide food items that could upset their stomach (like treats or table scraps).

Cold is not the only danger
Cooler temperatures bring a change to our routines as well – from the need to de-ice the sidewalk to making sure our cars don’t freeze, chemical combatants to the cold weather are plentiful in the environment.  It only takes a few drops of antifreeze to kill or seriously harm a pet – and since it tastes sweet, many pets will drink it from puddles or off their feet.  De-icers contain salts that can be quite irritating on a pet’s skin or in their mouth.  Watch out for space heaters as well – too close and your pet’s thick coat could become a fire hazard!

Come in out of the cold
Even the hardiest of outdoor-loving pets can become chilled when the temperature drops.  Make sure your pet has access to shelter and warmth, especially when it gets cold out.

Plan ahead, we know what happens when the snow falls...
Traffic comes to a halt, the roads get clogged, and making it out to the pet store may become impossible with the right amount of snow – make sure you stock up on food for your pet BEFORE it becomes difficult to get.  Also make sure you have fresh water and cat litter.  Now would also be a great time to call your veterinarian for a refill on any medications your pet is running low on. 

Dr Cary Waterhouse is owner and chief veterinarian at Lake Union Veterinary Clinic in Seattle.