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Top 8 Winter Tips for Small Pets & Big Pets in Massachusetts

Believe it or not, some people think that just because a pet has a “fur coat,” that it is okay to be outdoors in the winter months for hours at a time. Drive around the South Coast area, and you will see plenty of dogs stuck out in backyards throughout the day while their owners are at work. If a warm shelter is provided, along with food and water, some backyard situations can be safe. However, in addition to cold weather, snow, and ice, other seasonal elements can be potentially harmful to both small and big pets that you need to be aware of to keep them safe.

Veterinary care in Massachusetts is important for all pets, and you should keep the number of an emergency veterinary hospital handy just in case you need it. The best seasonal pet tips include prevention and having a plan of action in the event of an emergency. Winter pet tips for small pets are even more specific, so seek advice from a trusted veterinarian or search our blog for more small pet tips. The more you know, the better you will be able to protect your pets all year-round.

Tip #1 – Garages are Dangerous

Garages can be dangerous, both for dogs and for neighborhood cats or other animals that might find their way inside. Antifreeze, poisons, even paints, and household cleaners are all toxic and can create a dangerous situation for animals. Lock these things up in a cabinet. If you provide access to your pet during the day, make sure there is a warm spot with plenty of bedding or self-heating mats that don’t have to be plugged into an outlet to keep your pet warm. During extremely cold weather conditions, never leave a pet outdoors – even with garage access. Seek alternative options.

Tip #2 – Home Heaters

Another common issue with pets of all sizes involves the use of space heaters, wood stoves, and other heating sources. Cords can be gnawed or chewed, heaters can get knocked over, and all sorts of accidents can occur when pets are left unsupervised with home heaters. If you do not have a central heater, consider creating a barrier to keep your pet away from the heat source. Do not put a pet in a crate next to a heater or vent, as it gives your pet no way to move away if the heat gets too intense.

Tip #3 – Food and Water

Pets will often require more food (calories) in the winter, due to the cold weather, especially if they spend any amount of time outdoors. They will also need more fresh water, as the dryness of the season can make them dehydrate easily. If you leave your pet home for any length of time, make sure that they have fresh water that is in a spot where it won’t freeze, and some extra food to help keep them warm.

Tip #4 – Engine Issues

Before you start your car in the morning, whether you keep it in a garage or outdoors, make sure to bang on the vehicle to alert any neighborhood cats or other wild creatures that might have curled up inside of the wheel wells for warmth. Some animals will make their way into the engine compartments as well and get trapped. If you bang on the car, listen for any movement inside before starting your vehicle.

Tip #5 – Clip Nails

If your pet will be going outdoors, such as dogs going outside to relieve themselves, make sure to clip their nails regularly during the winter. Clipped nails allow for better traction on snow and ice.

Tip #6 – Foot Protection

Consider getting “booties” to protect sensitive pads from freezing if you go on regular walks or if your backyard and patio area collects a lot of ice during the winter. This will also protect from irritants, such as salt or other de-icing chemicals that are frequently used on sidewalks and streets to prevent ice from forming.

Tip #7 – Get a Check-up

Your pet’s needs can change as they get older. Bring your pet in for veterinary care in Massachusetts before the cold weather hits to find out if they can handle outdoor weather at their age. Medical conditions can also affect how well a pet will deal with cold weather, so it’s a good idea to get a check-up. This falls under winter tips for small pets as well, including hamsters, Guinea pigs, rabbits, and mice. Your local emergency veterinary hospital in Dartmouth can provide you with seasonal pet tips to keep everyone safe.

Tip #8 – Consider Alternative Care

If you will be gone from the home for several hours during the day for work or if you will be going out of town for any length of time during the winter, consider alternative care options. A well-known and trusted neighbor can be a big help to look in on pets, take dogs out during the day, and refresh food and water. Doggie daycare programs and boarding can be helpful if you will be gone for a weekend or longer and don’t have anyone nearby to take care of your pets.

Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth

If you are in need of veterinary care in Massachusetts for your pets or if you need a local emergency veterinary hospital for urgent care, contact Anchor Animal Hospital at 508-996-3731. Our team is highly trained and qualified to provide a variety of services for your pets, including basic health exams, vaccinations, veterinary treatments, surgical services, and emergency care. Call today to schedule an appointment or to learn more about our services.