Monday, February 05, 2007

Winter Pet Safety Tips

We want to make sure that all Gemini Dogs have a safe and warm winter, so please take a peek at these pet winter tips courtesy of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency:

Do not leave your pet outdoors when temperatures drops below freezing
Dogs need outdoor exercise, but take care not to keep them outdoors for lengthy periods of time during very cold weather. Short-coated dogs may feel more comfortable wearing a sweater during walks. Dogs and cats are safer indoors in all sorts of extreme weather.

Antifreeze and de-icing chemicals can be hazardous
Antifreeze has a sweet taste that can attract animals. Always store antifreeze out of reach and clean up spills. Antifreeze made with propylene glycol can actually be swallowed in small amounts and not injure pets, wildlife or humans. De-icing chemicals, including salt, can irritate the pads of your pet’s feet. Wipe your pet’s feet with a damp towel after coming indoors, even if salt on sidewalks is not visible.

Wind-chill is a threat to pets, even those protected by shelters
Outdoor dogs must be protected by a dry, draft-free doghouse that is large enough to allow the dog to both sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to retain body heat. The floor should be elevated a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The entrance of the doghouse should be turned to face away from prevailing winds, and the entrance should be covered with a flap of heavy waterproof fabric or heavy plastic.

Pets who spend a greater amount of time outdoors in the winter need more food
Maintaining warmth depletes energy. Routinely check your pet’s water dish to ensure the water is fresh and not frozen. To prevent your pet’s tongue from freezing to a metal bowl, plastic, rather than metal food and water bowls are preferred.

Be leery of frozen bodies of water
Always keep your pets on a leash when walking them near suspected frozen bodies of water. The ice may not be sturdy enough to support your pet. If a pet falls through the ice do not attempt to rescue your pet yourself. Go for help.

Warm automobile engines are dangerous for cats and small wildlife
Parked vehicles can attract small animals, which may crawl under the hood seeking warmth. To avoid injuring hiding animals, bang on your car’s hood to scare them off before starting your engine.

For additional information about keeping your pets safe, visit the State of Massachusetts Animal Response Team website.

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