The winters in North Dakota can be very dangerous for humans and their pets. One should always be prepared and cautious when heading outdoors into the elements. To keep your dog or cat safe from the cold weather, follow these tips.
It is best to get your pet used to the winter weather gradually. Also, know what breed(s) your dog or cat is. Some breeds survive best in northern climates and may be more tolerant of the winter weather whereas others may not be. Consider a sweater for these not-so-tolerant short-haired and small breeds when going outdoors.
If your pet is a working dog or spends time outside frequently, consider increasing his caloric intake. He will need the extra food to maintain his body temperature. Talk to your veterinarian about increasing your pet’s food to prevent overweight problems.
If you plan to leave your dog outside for extended periods, make sure he/she has good shelter. It should be large enough for movement but small enough to retain body heat, and be well insulated and water repellent. You should also provide clean, dry bedding, and make sure you check on your dog when you can – in our area of the country, temperatures can decrease to dangerous levels.
Cats love to find warm spots to curl up to. Keep them away from fireplaces, wood stoves, and space heaters. Also check under hoods before starting your vehicle; outdoor cats will end up taking naps there.
Occasionally you may have your pet riding in the vehicle. We recommend never leaving him unattended, and keep the vehicle room temperature. Remember that if you shut your vehicle off, it only can take a few minutes before temperatures decrease dramatically and if you leave your vehicle running, the exhaust could become poisonous. Lastly, plan making your long shopping trips during times you do not have your dog or cat riding with you.
Regularly check your pet’s paws for salt, ice, and snow. These can collect and cause the paws to be irritated or frostbitten. Other areas that frostbite easily are the ears and tail. Another way to keep paws healthy include trimming excess hair so the salt, ice, and snow cannot accumulate. If the pads are cracked, consider a small amount of petroleum jelly.
Keep the antifreeze locked up and stored away, and clean up any spills. Your pet is attracted to the chemical, and if ingested it may be deadly.