By Katie Johnson
During this time of year, drops in temperature mean more than cranking up the heat in your home. Follow the Seattle Animal Shelter’s tips for protecting pets from the cold:
- Bring pets indoors and take them out only when necessary. Even on a sunny day, dogs and cats can get frostbitten ears, noses and feet if left outside.
- Help your elderly or arthritic pets when they need to go outside.
- Like people, dogs and cats are more susceptible to illnesses in the winter. Take your pet to your veterinarian if symptoms occur.
- If your cats or dogs get wet from rain or snow, gently towel or blow-dry them off, including their paws. This helps avoid tiny cuts and cracked pads. Remember that chemicals used to melt snow and ice on driveways and sidewalks can burn your pet, so check their paws, mouths and bellies after a walk.
- Do not leave your pet alone in a car. It gets too cold and can quickly become a freezer, causing hypothermia and possibly death.
- If you use antifreeze, clean up spills immediately, and watch for any left on the ground or in open containers. Pets love the smell and taste of antifreeze, and even a small amount can kill them.
- Be careful of fireplaces and portable heaters. Keep fireplaces screened and heaters out of reach, as pets may chew the cord or knock them over and cause a fire.
- If you have to leave your dog outside for a period of time, provide an elevated dog house with clean, dry bedding and a flap over the opening to keep drafts out. Face the doors away from the west or north to avoid cold winds. Better yet, if you have a garage, consider installing a doggie door. Check water bowls to make sure they are not frozen and avoid using metal bowls, as your pet’s tongue could stick to the frozen metal.
- Remember that when walking on snow, dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. A current Seattle pet license is your best insurance that your pet will be returned to you.
- Consider a sweater for short-coated breeds, such as pit-bull-type dogs and Chihuahuas. Choose wisely, as sweaters made from certain fibers, such as cotton, don’t insulate when they get wet and can actually remove heat from an animal’s body. Instead select wool and some synthetics that provide insulation, even when wet.
- Outdoor cats and kittens often nap on warm car engines and hoods. If your car was recently used, knock on the hood or honk the car horn before starting the engine.
The Seattle Animal Shelter is open Wednesday through Sunday, 1- 6 p.m. for adoptions and licensing. For more information, call 206-386-PETS (7387), or view animals available for adoption online at www.seattleanimalshelter.org.