snowdogWinter safety tips

Oh baby, it’s cold outside! Don’t forget to take special care of your pets this winter.

Clean your pet’s paws please

Paws can accumulate a conglomeration of snow, ice, salt, and ice-melting chemicals while your pet frolics outside. Your pet’s feet are extremely sensitive, and it is very important to clean their paws with a damp cloth to prevent frostbite, burns and potential poisoning. In a grooming effort, animals will lick their paws only to be poisoned by these low to moderate toxic snow and ice removers. Frostbite is primarily characterized by gray, white, or reddish skin and may have a scaly appearance.

Preventive Measure: To help protect paws, try coating them with a bit of cooking spray before walking in the blistery cold.

“Mommy, I am hungry…”

During cold months, animals (especially dogs) may need additional food because they burn extra calories trying to keep warm. Please pay close attention to your pet’s appetite and increase portions accordingly.

Cats + fan belts = danger

Seeking warmth and shelter, cats crawl in parked vehicles and curl up near the engine. When the car is started, the outcome is tragic. This is one of the many reasons why the Montgomery County Humane Society recommends that cats should be indoors-only.

Preventive Measure: In order to prevent cats from being seriously injured or killed, honk the horn or knock on the hood several times before starting the vehicle.

Skidding cars

Pets that run loose are in danger of being hit or killed by skidding vehicles. Snow and ice make it more difficult or impossible for drivers to stop their vehicles.

Preventive Measure: Keep your pets on a leash or in a fenced in yard.

Snow drifts = escape plan

Snow drifts may enable pets to climb over fences in their yards. Once they escape, they are in danger of getting hit by skidding vehicles. Also, heavy snow can camouflage scent markers making it easier for pets to become lost, even in their own neighborhood. More dogs are reported lost during the winter than any other season.

Preventive Measure: Watch for snow drifts in fenced yards and remove them promptly.

Don’t let your pets shiver

If your pet is shivering, it is very cold. Please take your pet inside if this happens and drape a warm blanket around your pet. Coats and booties can help your dog stay warm. In particular, short-haired or elderly dogs benefit from wearing coats or sweaters. Look for coats or sweaters with high collars or a turtleneck that covers the dog from the base of its tail on the top to the belly underneath.

“Is this where I go potty?”

During deep snows, shovel out a spot for your dog to relieve himself/herself. Also, it may be difficult to housebreak puppies in the winter. If necessary, paper-train your puppy inside if he/she appears to be sensitive to the weather. Remember to be extra careful with young, old, or sick pets. Take them outside only to relieve themselves.

Antifreeze is dangerous

Hundreds of children and thousands of companion animals and wildlife are accidentally poisoned each year from ingesting ethylene glycol, a highly toxic substance used in automobiles. The sweet taste and bright color of antifreeze attract children and animals, but swallowing even a single teaspoon can be deadly.  If you suspect your pet ingested anti-freeze even in a very small quantity, take him/her to the veterinarian immediately. This is a serious medical emergency. Antifreeze is incredibly toxic.

Preventative Measure: Use less toxic antifreeze, de-icing, and/or ice-melting chemicals. The Sierra Company sells less toxic antifreeze, which you can purchase at N&S Rentals Inc. in Germantown, MD and Zimmerman’s Home Center in Burtonsville, MD.

Space heaters

Space heaters can burn your pet.

Preventive Measure: Do not leave your pet unattended in a room with a space heater.

Pets are always safest indoors

Pets are members of the family and should live indoors with their people. If you are going to leave your dog out in the yard for a few hours, be sure that he/she has a bowl of water, not ice, and a warm, dry place to go. Bowls should not be metal because your pet’s tongue can stick to the bowl.

According to Montgomery County law, dog houses must be constructed of weather resistant material, be at least 2’’ off the ground, have a protected entrance and non-absorbent bedding (ex: straw or hay). If the structure is a garage or porch, it must be heated. Keep in mind that cold temperatures, snow, freezing rain and wind chill can be both deadly and scary to a pet left outdoors.

If you see an animal without proper shelter call your local animal control. Montgomery County residents may call Montgomery County Animal Services at (301) 279-8000 (the non-emergency police line).
This page last updated 4-3-15