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Winter pet protection: How to prepare your pet


Presented by
Find Your Forecast
    Joanne Richard
    Special to The Weather Network

    Friday, November 17, 2017, 12:05 PM - Just like you prepare a seasonal wardrobe swap for the upcoming cold weather, give thought to protecting your pet from frigid temperatures long before the snow flies.

    “We all have to adjust to changing seasons, humans and pets. Here in Canada, as summer drifts into fall, where nights can be chilly, day temperatures can vary and winter that provides challenges,” says Brian Kilcommons, dog expert and author. While long and double coated dogs love the cold, the small and/or shorthaired dogs not so much.

    Keeping your dog healthy and warm during the rainy or cold seasons may be as simple as buying them a quality rain- and windproof coat. A chic Vanderpump vest or preppy Ralph Lauren dog jacket may have some people rolling their eyes, but your furry friend will thank you for it. Booties can be not only fashionable but also functional, as they can protect your pet's paws from road salt.

    While some pets love being dressed for the weather, others protest. Using positive conditioning and slowly getting your pet used to these new items will help you use them more successfully when the time comes.

    Don’t be out in the cold when it comes to winter pet protection. Dr. Lisa Darling, of Petsmart Veterinay Services, offers these tips to be pet-prepared when the cold temps roll in:

    • Dogs should be dressed appropriately for the weather. but take care not to overdo it: They need to be able to exercise without getting overheated. Meanwhile, skin exposure to ice, snow and extremely cold temperatures can incur injuries like frost bite, paw cracks and fissures, and even lacerations.
    • If your pet isn’t wearing booties, always check paws after outdoor activity and remove any ice, snow, slush and grit that can accumulate.
    • In addition to increased risks of antifreeze exposure and toxicity, both ice melting products and the use of rat and mouse killers increase when temperatures drop. Both are also extremely toxic to pets.
    • Dogs need exercise year-round but take special care when walking with them outside. Temperatures going up and down causes refreezing, which along with snow cover results in hidden ice under the snow. Always keep a secure hold on your dog’s leash and watch your step -- both of you!
    • When a cold snap hits and your pet doesn’t want to do his business outside wearing booties, try putting down a layer of straw, mulch or sand in an easily accessible area of your yard and guide them to it. It still feels and smells natural for your dog, but the straw will provide insulation from the colder surface below and protect sensitive paws.

    When temperatures drop, keep your dog’s mood up. If you’ve shortened walks because of the cold, then be sure to up the indoor fun, with tips from Dr. Michele Forbes, of ccahpetvet.com:

    • Playing with new toys is a great boredom buster for both cats and dogs.
    • Some cats and dogs enjoy grooming so a daily brushing can be great one-on-one time together.
    • Continue to do outside activities when it is safe to do so.
    • Feed meals in puzzle toys to keep pets mentally engaged.
    • A dog walker or doggie daycare can help with winter blues – as long as your dog enjoys the company of other dogs and is well socialized.

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