MIAMI COUNTY — As winter drags on, the weather only continues to become more challenging for people and pets alike.
As people bundle up in scarves, boots, and heavy winter coats, sometimes beloved pets can escape thought when worrying about the winter chill.
However, pets too experience cold, and even though they still have their wild genes within them, animals also love to cozy up next to a fireplace in winter time.
Proper winter pet care is essential to protecting the animals wellbeing throughout this season, especially in Ohio’s unpredictable winters.
For mainly outdoor pets, Marcia Doncaster, director of the Miami County Animal Shelter, said people should make sure that they have an abundance of water at all times, as well as an appropriate size water bowl. Owners also should be checking to make sure that their water did not freeze and if it does to replace it immediately.
“Outdoor dogs lose 30 percent more calories during the winter because they spend more energy keeping warm,” Doncaster said.
She said it’s also important to feed them more often during the winter so they have extra calories to keep warm.
Doncaster also shared the importance of shelter for outdoor animals, with emphasis on the right size of dog shelter.
“It needs to big enough for them stand up, turn around, and lay down,” Doncaster said.
The dog shelters should be the right size — not too big so their body heat doesn’t escape — but not so small that they are cramped.
As for bedding, it should be a material like straw or pine shavings, she said, that unlike carpet adsorb moisture, but let it seep to the bottom, while still maintaining a dry surface for the pet to lay on.
Concerning grooming, pets should be brushed often to remove dirt and mud, but try not a bathe them because it will dry out their skin and remove natural oils, according the the ASPCA.
It is also important to constantly be checking pets’ feet for dry or cracked skin, which can be signs of frostbite, along with discolored skin and blisters.
“Use vaseline or foot balm for pets to help with cracking or irritation, it moisturizes, but keeps their paws pliable,” Doncaster said.
While walking pets in the cold, make sure to wipe their paws and legs down after in case chemicals from salt or antifreeze get onto the pets skin, which in most cases pets will lick.
Always have your pet on a lead or leash in snow because dogs particularly can lose their scent and not be able to find their way back home, she said.
Doncaster also relayed the importance of animals always having their tags on them because it the is the most sure and fastest way of reuniting pets with their owners.
Concerning indoor hazards, such as ornaments from the Christmas trees, Doncaster said they can be harmful to pets who often mistake them for toys. She said to be aware of holiday plants such as poinsettias and mistletoe, which are poisonous to most animals.
Candles are also another danger, because pets can knock them over and burn themselves — or worse — cause a fire in the home.
Doncaster said in especially harsh winter conditions, always bring pets inside because even if they have an outside shelter, it will not protect them from extreme weather.
“If its too cold for people, it’s most certainly too cold for pets,” Doncaster said.