MADISON (WKOW) -- The winter weather is difficult for humans, but it is also a challenge and can be dangerous for pets. There are several simple things you can do to help keep your pet safe through the winter season and particularly severe winter weather.
The AAHA-Accredited Veterinary Hospital released several things you can do to protect your pets including, keeping your pets indoors and out of the cold weather as much as possible. If they must go out for the bathroom or a brief walk, you should stay with them. You should also make sure that pets have enough fresh, non-frozen drinking water. Animals who don't have clean accessible water will turn to gutters and puddles when they can drink deadly antifreeze, oil and other chemicals. The weather can affect pets' health. Conditions like diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and hormonal imbalances can compromise a pet's ability to regulate their own body heat.
Very young and old animals are especially vulnerable to the cold. The cold can be especially hard on the joints of older animals that become stiff and tender. Stay directly behind older pets when they are climbing stairs. Stiff and arthritic pets can experience significant injury if they slip on ice, so beware of conditions when you walk them. If you live near a pond or lake, be especially careful of ice. Animals can easily fall through the ice and it is difficult for them to escape on their own. Keep your pet on a leash and stay with them when outdoors. Pets who go outdoors can pick up rock salt, ice, and chemical ice melts in their foot pads. Keep your pet's pads from getting chapped and raw by wiping their feet with a washcloth when they come inside.
In addition, all pet owners should be aware of pets becoming trapped in the winter weather. Animals left outdoors can be very resourceful in trying to find shelter. They dig into snow banks and dive under porches, into window wells, and cellars where they can become trapped. Always provide warm, accessible shelter and watch them closely. Lastly, make sure to check under your car hood, honk, or rap on the hood before you start your car or truck engine. A cold cat will curl up against almost anything, including engines, to stay warm.
It is important to note that some animals, such as Huskies, are better equipped for the snow than others due to their extensive fur. Such animals usually can stay outdoors longer than others, but vets advise to still keep a close eye on them.