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Although some pets are conditioned to cold weather, veterinary experts agree that you should bring outdoor pets indoors if the temperature drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tom Dock of Noah’s Animal Hospital joined us today to share the importance of keeping your pets warm and safe during the winter.

In Marion County, pet owners are required by law to bring in pets when the temperatures drop below 20 degrees or if there is a wind chill warning. Puppies, kittens, and short-haired pets should come inside anytime the temperature goes below 40 degrees.

For pets with long hair, proper grooming is essential to help them maintain a layer of warming air within their coat.  Pets who are heavily matted cannot keep themselves as warm.

If your pet must stay outdoors, be sure to provide shelter for your pet.  A good “house” will have three enclosed sides, will be elevated off the ground, and will contain generous amounts of bedding such as straw or hay.  In cold weather, bigger is not always better.  A house just big enough for your pet will warm up faster and retain heat better than something that is too big.

Your pet will need access to freshwater that isn’t frozen.  Use heated water bowls and replenish them frequently.

Antifreeze is a common and deadly pet poison during colder months.  If you suspect your pet has consumed any antifreeze at all, you must contact your veterinarian immediately! Antifreeze has a sweet taste to pets, so they will readily lap up any spilled material.  If you spill antifreeze, dilute the area well with water and sweep excess water into a rocky or sandy area. Cover the area with soil to keep pets from licking at the rocks. 

Ice melts are also a concern.  In most cases, simply brushing the salt off of your pet’s feet will be enough, but there are rare cases where dogs might eat enough of the product to cause salt poisoning. 

Pet safe products are available but still have the potential for danger.

Cats love to warm up underneath car hoods.  If your car is kept outdoors, or if cats have access to your garage, be sure to pound on the hood of the car prior to starting it.  Many cats are killed or injured grievously by fan belts and moving engine parts.

Pets should not be left alone in vehicles due to the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning or hypothermia.

Our pets suffer from frostbite and hypothermia just like we do.  Consider keeping dogs on a leash when they go outside.  Many curious dogs off-leash will explore “frozen” retention ponds, lakes or streams and fall through the ice into the frigid water.

Actually, getting outside and walking your dog can not only keep your pet safe, but it might also help you with your New Year’s resolution to get in better shape or lose weight! Our dogs can be great motivators!  Their excitement about getting out and walking is often contagious!

Ask your veterinarian about safe ways to get your pet walking so that you avoid any potential injury to your beloved companion Older pets may suffer more from arthritis during these months.  Ask your veterinarian about ways to help keep your senior pet comfortable during the winter.

Monitor all pets around wood-burning stoves, fireplaces and space heaters.  These can cause severe burns!

This is a great time of year to see your veterinarian about a “winter check-up” for your pet.  Their advice and expertise can help keep your pet safe and warm.

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