Keep Your Pet Healthy All Winter Long
Storm windows? Check. Snow tires? Check. Winter woollies? Check. What about your dog or cat? While you're prepping your home, your car and your wardrobe for the colder months, don't forget to weatherproof your furry friend. Here are a few things the experts say you can do to keep your pet warm, healthy and safe all season long.
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Warm Him Up
You might laugh when you see a Chihuahua wearing a miniature coat, but there are practical justifications for a coat that keeps your animal warm, especially for small dogs. "These breeds have a relatively high ratio of body surface to body weight, so they lose body heat more quickly than larger dogs," says Jeff Werber, DVM, of Century Veterinary Group in Los Angeles. "But large dogs can also benefit from an extra layer if they spend a lot of time outdoors in the cold."
Keep Him Dry
As much as you hate getting caught in a rainstorm, getting soaked can actually be worse for pets. "Their coats retain water, so the impact of the cold and dampness is greater, increasing the risk of hypothermia," says Dr. Werber. Protect your pet with a poncho that folds up and can be worn around the neck, so it's there if you need it in case of an unexpected shower.
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Soothe His Skin
If your pet's skin becomes red or itchy from the cold, Dr. Werber recommends washing the affected area with a gentle soap and applying a triple-antibiotic ointment. For an on-the-go fix for a dry, cracked nose, try a healing balm formulated for pets. Just make sure to apply it right before a meal so that your pet doesn't lick it off.
Improve His Visibility In The Dark
Reflective gear is a safety essential for walks at night or in snowy, rainy or foggy weather — it helps drivers spot your animal if it bounds into traffic. "Reflective gear gets a thumbs-up for safety, even for cats. If your pet escapes out the front door, a reflective collar will alert drivers to his presence, and the name tag will help get your pet safely home," says Ann Hohenhaus, DVM, of the Animal Medical Center in New York City.
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Protect His Paws
When you put on your snow boots, do the same for your pup if it's icy out. Pets can suffer frostbite, and the salt or chemicals commonly spread on streets to melt snow can irritate your dog's paws. Try protective booties, such as Protex Pawz Dog Boots.
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