The winter months bring forth the holidays, family gatherings, wholesome foods and…icy weather conditions. Gone are the long days spent outside playing fetch with Fido, and gone are the warm evenings that Fluffy could be left out to go on the prowl. In the winter, pet owners should take extra caution to make sure their pets are being kept safe.
There are several myths associated with the colder months that circulate about pet care, and none of them are true. We’ve addressed these common misconceptions (and what truth lies within them) here.
Fleas won’t affect my pet.
While fleas and their nasty tick cousins can’t thrive in winter weather, they don’t necessarily all die off when the temperature dips below freezing. These parasites seek warm shelter for the winter, and where best to find it than a nice, heated house? Fleas can hide in carpets and rugs and jump on your pet all winter long. If you find your pet scratching often, it may be time to treat her (and your house) for fleas.
Gaining weight can help keep her warm.
It may seem like a logical idea–gaining weight can provide Fido with some extra insulation for the winter months. But if your pet is inside (and he should be in the winter), there is no real need for it. In fact, gaining weight can put your pet at risk for a host of health problems, which include obesity, arthritis, heart and kidney disease, and diabetes. And if your house is already toasty, an overweight pet might run the risk of becoming overheated. It’s best to keep your pet trim and fit and eating a normal amount of food throughout the entire year.
His natural fur coat is enough to brave the elements.
Not all fur is created equal. While a Siberian Husky would have an easier time braving the elements than a Labrador Retriever, all dogs (and cats) are at risk of frostbite or hypothermia. Keep a careful eye on your pet when she is out in the snow, because fur can quickly get wet (and that’s not a good thing in freezing temperatures!). If you and your pet will be outside for a while, make sure she has a coat or sweater fitted for her, and have some sort of protection on her paws.
The pads on her paws protect her feet from cold weather.
Speaking of paws, one of the biggest misconceptions is that the pads on the bottom of them will protect pets from all sorts of elements. While it’s true that pads do offer some form of protection, they are not like shoes. Fido’s feet can become cold quite easily, and the pads can be injured by sharp bits of snow or ice. Snow can also become wedged between his toes, causing pain and limping. So when going for walks, especially in snowy conditions, make sure to put little booties or socks make specifically for pets on Fido’s paws. Human socks will only get wet and cause Fido to become even more cold!
He’s safer in the car in the winter than in the summer.
Leaving pets in cars is never a good idea, but some believe that it’s safer to leave Fluffy in the car in the winter than it is in the summer. But the extreme temperatures of the summer holds true for the winter–only instead of extreme heat, pets are in danger of extreme cold. Pets can freeze to death in only a short amount of time, so never, ever leave him unattended in a parked car.
My pet won’t get dehydrated because it’s not hot.
Another misconception is that because it’s not hot out, our pets can’t become dehydrated. But winter brings very dry weather, which causes pets to lose a lot of body moisture through their breath (especially if they are panting). This can cause Fluffy or Fido to become dehydrated quite quickly. Always make sure her bowl is full of water and that she has easy access to it. Even a quick walk around the block can make her thirstier than you’d expect.
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Now that we’ve debunked these myths, you can better take care of your pet this winter. Here’s to a happy, safe, and fun season!