Seasonal pet tips are a great way to make sure that your pets are being properly cared for throughout the year, especially in an area as diverse in temperature and weather as Southeastern Massachusetts. Winter tips for small pets, cats, and dogs can help you prevent dangerous and life-threatening situations before they happen. New Bedford pet owners should do everything they can to keep pets warm, indoors, and well cared for during the winter months. A visit to your local trusted Southeastern Massachusetts veterinarian for a preventive wellness exam can be the best way to get started. If your pet has cold weather issues, such as arthritis, your vet can prescribe treatment and medication that can help.
Changes in Your Walking Routine
If you regularly walk your dog (or cat – some people do), you might want to consider changing your route to shorten the length of time that you are both out in the cold. The age, breed, activity level, and overall health of your pet should be a factor in your decision-making. For example, long-haired breeds like Huskies and Maine Coons are more tolerant of cold weather than short-haired varieties. That extra hair provides a layer of natural insulation from the lower temperatures, snow, and ice. Short-legged pets may also have trouble navigating through deep snow. Booties are recommended for many pets to protect their feet from freezing weather and accumulation of snow and ice. Other dangers lurk as well, including de-icing chemicals and salt used to melt ice on sidewalks and driveways.
BONUS TIP – If your pet has been diagnosed with any type of illness, such as heart disease, kidney disease, hormonal imbalances, or diabetes, they may have difficulty regulating their body temperature. As a result, your pet could be more susceptible to health issues caused by temperature extremes including both heat and cold. Speak with your Southeastern Massachusetts veterinarian for details that can help you determine your pet’s temperature limits throughout the year.
Cold Weather Options for Comfort
While you might be freezing and want to put on layers of sweaters or curl up under a blanket, your pet may have different ideas. Provide your pet with lots of options so they can choose what is most comfortable for them. One of the best winter tips for small pets and larger ones as well, is to create various sleeping places near heat sources and away from heat sources so they can regulate temperatures according to their needs. Sweaters are great for outdoors but are not always needed inside. If your pet looks uncomfortable, ditch the sweater and offer warm bedding options instead.
Inspect Your Pet’s Paws
While cats can stay indoors throughout the winter, dogs still need to go outside to do their business. Even if you don’t take your dog out for a walk, New Bedford pet owners should still get in the habit of checking paws for any injuries or damage. Cracked paw pads, bleeding or peeling are signs of cold weather injuries. Take a look between your pet’s toes as well to check for ice accumulation. Keep de-icing materials out of your pet’s area. Shovel the patio and sidewalk out back instead and stay on top of it. Even salt can be damaging your pet’s sensitive paws and should be avoided at all costs. If you notice any damage, contact your veterinarian to see if an appointment is needed for treatment or if there are other seasonal pet tips and recommendations that they can share.
Winter Food and Water
It can get pretty dry indoors during the winter. People drink more water without thinking of it, so you should make sure that your pets have access to clean and fresh drinking water at all times. Check the bowl or bottle a bit more frequently during the winter to make sure it is still full. Diet can also change during the winter. Some pets may require extra calories if they spend a lot of time outdoors to generate the body heat and energy required to keep them warm. However, if your dog is only going out to do his business, you won’t need to make any dietary adjustments. Watch the calorie intake with extra treats and scraps, especially if you will have a lot of well-meaning guests who might “stuff” your pet during a visit.
Prevent Winter Poisoning
There are a lot of new risks to consider during the winter months. Lock up antifreeze and keep it away from all pets and children. Even a small amount can be deadly. Keep all medications, household chemicals, and potentially toxic foods up and away from your pets. Beware of candy dishes set out with chocolates or sugar-free xylitol ingredients that can be extremely toxic and life-threatening to pets. Some plants are also toxic and can be a danger to pets that frequently nibble on flowers and leaves, so pay attention to everything that you bring into your home. Do not use additives in the water for your Christmas tree, as many pets sneak drinks out of tree water and it can be extremely dangerous.
Contact Your Trusted Southeastern Massachusetts Veterinarian
If you suspect that your pet has ingested or experienced anything that could be making them sick, contact your local vet right away. New Bedford pet owners need to be aware of the signs of hypothermia and other seasonal pet tips that can save the life of a pet in danger. Call Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth to schedule a veterinary check-up or to learn more about our emergency services and winter tips for small pets. You can reach our team at 508-996-3731. We are closed Sundays and major holidays. Check our website for referrals to additional emergency services in the Southcoast area.