Don’t forget about Fido and Fluffy this winter

While this winter has been mild so far, earlier this week, residents got a teaser of the colder temperatures that are looming on the horizon, making it the perfect time to offer some reminders for keeping your four-legged friends safe from winter’s chill.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has a reputation for standing up for animals as one of the largest humane societies in the world, and the largest in the nation.

“Helping vulnerable animals and keeping pets in safe and loving homes requires a commitment from all of us—advocates, pet owners, shelters, leaders and entire communities,” said Matthew Bershadker, ASPCA President and Chief Executive Office. “When we work together under a common cause, we’re both saving lives and elevating our society and its laws to ensure cruelty victims and other at-risk animals receive the protection and care they deserve.”

To help aid in their mission of provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States, the ASPCA is offering some tips to help keep Fluffy and Fido safer this winter.

By now, most people have heard the saying, “If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for them,” when it comes to frosty temperatures and four-legged companions. And while there are certain breeds and animals who thrive in colder weather, animal-care experts believe this to be a true statement.

“When pets shiver in the cold, they’re showing clear signs of discomfort,” said a local expert. “When temperatures dip to near freezing and below, pets should be brought in out of the elements.”

And it’s not just the cold that animals have to go up against in the winter. Outdoor walks can become dangerous if pets’ paws are exposed to chemical ice-melting agents and then licked clean.

“Use pet-friendly ice melts whenever possible,” encourages the ASPCA.

To help with this specific threat to animals, the ASPCA suggests bringing a towel on long walks to clean off stinging, irritated paws. After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet and stomach to remove ice, salt and chemicals.

In addition, the organization recommends checking for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes to help keep your furry friends happier and healthier.

Massaging petroleum jelly or other paw protectants into paw pads before going outside can help protect from salt and chemical agents. Booties provide even more coverage and can also prevent sand and salt from getting lodged between bare toes and causing irritation.

Dry skin is also a nasty problem for dogs and cats during the colder winter months, but there are some things that pet parents can do to help alleviate symptoms.

Repeatedly coming out of the cold into the dry heat of your home can cause itchy, flaking skin. Keep your home humidified and towel dry your pet as soon as he comes inside, paying special attention to his feet and in-between the toes.

In addition, the ASPCA suggests bathing pets as little as possible during cold spells, as washing too often can remove essential oils and increase the chance of developing dry, flaky skin. If your furry friend must be bathed, ask your vet for their recommendation for moisturizing products.

And the number one thing you can do for your canine and kitty companions, ensure that they have a warm place to sleep.

If your pet is an outside pet, ensure that they have shelter to get in out of the elements. A doghouse or box outfitted with blankets or straw will do the trick. Also, owners will need to ensure that food and water are regularly available, so be sure to check their water bowls to make sure the water hasn’t frozen.

“Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside. If left outdoors, pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured or killed,” the ASPCA stated. “In addition, don’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death.”

By following these tips, you can help keep your dogs and cats safer, happier and healthier this winter.


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