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Top Winter Weather Tips for Pet Owners

Finn in Winter Snow
The winter season is officially upon us and beyond the holiday celebrations, cozy fireplaces and bundled up winter clothing for us humans, it may mean other things for our pets. Specifically, during the cold winter months there are a few things pet owners should be aware of that may affect your pet’s health and well-being. Here are a few tips to ensure your pet is in optimal health during the winter season!

Beat Dry Skin
Dry air from indoor heaters can cause dry itchy skin. If possible, avoid bathing in the winter more than every 2 weeks. If your dog has winter allergies or needs to be bathed more frequently a veterinarian can recommend a shampoo that can be used more often and can help moisturize the skin. Dry shampoos or moisturizing mouses can help condition skin and aid in freshening hair between baths.

Support Sore Joints
Cold temperatures can exacerbate underlying arthritis. Make sure pets have plenty of soft places to sleep and keep walks short in cold temperatures. If your pet is on a medication for arthritis, winter is a good time to update their physical exam and go over their medication plan with your vet.

Winter Walks
During cold temperatures shorten walks and watch your pet closely for shaking, resistance to walking, heat seeking or discomfort. Coats and sweaters can help hold heat in for short coated dogs. Longer haired coats should be trimmed regularly around the legs and abdomen to keep ice and snow from clinging to hair. Booties can protect paw pads from frostbite and from lacerations on sharp frozen terrain. Vaseline can be massaged into paw pads to keep them conditioned and to help form a protective covering from salt and chemicals on sidewalks. Make sure pets do not ingest salt on sidewalks. Even pet friendly de icing products can be dangerous in large enough quantities. It is important to not leave pets unattended where they can consume de-icer of any form.

Collar and Microchip Check
Winter is a common time for dogs and cats to go missing and snow can keep them from smelling common landmarks that help them find their way home. The freezing temperatures of winter add a new element of stress and concern for missing pets out in the elements.. Make sure contact info is listed on your pet’s collar and if your pet does not already have a microchip this is a good time to have one administered.

Winter Weight Gain
Most of us gain weight in the winter due to less activity and this often includes our pets too. Maintaining a healthy weight is especially important for older dogs because the excess weight adds to stress on their joints. For dogs that are prone to being overweight, a reduction of 10% of their food can help prevent additional winter gains. If your pet is still begging for food you can replace 20% of his food with green beans to help him feel full while reducing calorie consumption.

Check your engine
Feral cats will commonly seek shelter and warmth under the hood of cars. Give feral animals warning by making noise and check under your car if it is parked outside before starting it.

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