Tips for Caring for Your Pet in the Cold Weather from PetFirst

Keeping pets warm, bathing and continuing medication tips.

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Bringing your pet indoors and making sure they have a warm, cozy place to sleep away from drafty winds is the first step.

(PRWEB) January 24, 2014

Old man winter has blanketed most of the US for the past several weeks. As if one Polar Vortex wasn’t enough, a second Polar Vortex system has brought sub 0 temperatures to many states for a second time in the less than a month. PetFirst offers a few tips on caring for your pet during the winter months as we patiently await the arrival of spring.

How can I make sure my pet stays warm?

Bringing your pet indoors and making sure they have a warm, cozy place to sleep away from drafty winds is the first step. Providing your pet with plenty of cushion, either in their own bed or with pillows and blankets will allow them to keep their body temperature regulated and get plenty of shut-eye.

For those that keep a short hair cut on our pet, never shave your dog during the winter months and allow them to sport a longer coat. It will keep them warmer. If you have a short-hair breed, think about purchasing a sweater or coat that covers their mid-section to the base of their tail. While some pet owners consider this fashion statement fun, many consider it a must for function to prevent their pet from being uncomfortably cold during winter months and outdoor activities.

Can I continue to bathe my pet outside?

No, it is time to bathe your dog indoors. Dogs are more susceptible to catching a cold in the winter months, as well as suffering from hypothermia or frost bite, so utilizing your bathroom to bathe and groom your pet is necessary.

Consider turning up the heat in the bathroom and checking the water temperature after you have filled up the tub. Dogs can suffer burns from hot water, and they will be much more cooperative if the water is a comfortable temperature. Also, investing in a non-skid mat for the bottom of the tub will be money well spent. A bathtub’s slippery surface can cause dogs to panic and make bath time even more challenging.

Prior to bathing your dog, brush out all mats and excess fur. This will prevent fur from clogging your drain. Be sure to use a dog shampoo, and be weary of getting it in their eyes. Rinse out the shampoo thoroughly, and try to keep water out of their ears as much as possible to prevent infection. Utilize your hands as a squeegee to remove excess water, then towel dry. After your pet is dry, you will want to brush them again to remove any fur that was loosened during the bath. Never let a pet outside that is damp or wet; make sure your pet does their business prior to getting a bath and is let out only after being completely dry.

How do I protect my pet from chemical hazards during the winter?

Snow and ice are usually combated with chemical compounds created to melt the ice. Those chemical compounds also pose a real danger to pets. Be sure to clean your pet’s paws and underbelly after being outside to prevent burning and irritation. Remove all the snow and ice, especially in between the pads of their feet, to prevent licking and ingestion of any chemical.

Antifreeze poising in pets is a very common occurrence during winter months. The sweet aroma and taste is inviting to pets, but ingestion can endanger your pet’s life and cause serious kidney damage. To protect your pet, keep antifreeze sealed and out of reach. Never allow your pet to wander unattended near roads, driveways and in garages or sheds where they could come in contact with antifreeze. To lessen the threat of antifreeze poisoning, choose a brand of antifreeze that contains propylene glycol, which is less toxic, instead of containing ethylene glycol. If you suspect your pet has ingested antifreeze, get them veterinary care immediately. Treatment in the first few hours is critical to your pet’s survival.

Signs of antifreeze poisoning:

  •     Lethargy and disorientation
  •     Vomiting
  •     Oral and gastric ulcers
  •     Kidney failure
  •     Coma
  •     Death

Do I need to continue flea, tick and heartworm prevention during the winter months?

Yes, it is imperative that pet owners continue to treat their pets with preventative medication during the winter months. Heartworm, as well as flea and tick preventatives should be given to pets year-round.

Heartworms are more commonly found in dogs, but can be fatal to both dogs and cats. Heartworms lodge themselves into your pet’s heart, lungs and pulmonary arteries where they cause severe health issues and may even result in death. Mosquitoes are carriers of microscopic heartworm larvae, which can be spread to your pet with just one bite. During the winter months when mosquitoes are scarcely seen outdoors in cold climates, they survive in places such as garages, basements and sheds. There are many effective heartworm preventatives on the market that can help protect your pet during these months when the threat of contracting heartworms is still present.

Just like mosquitoes, fleas and ticks can also survive the cold winter months. They can house themselves not only on your pet and outdoors, but also in bedding and carpet. These insects can be carriers of life-threatening conditions such as Lyme disease, murine typhus, plague, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and others which can affect your pet and your entire family. To protect your pet and your home, treat your pet with a monthly preventative as well as treating your environment. Vacuuming carpet prior to applying environmental flea and tick preventatives will help pre-adult fleas to come out of hiding, making them easier to target. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a product that contains an insect growth regulators (IGR) that will prevent maturation of eggs, larvae and adults.

Can flu season affect my pet?

While parents know winter brings several bouts of runny noses and coughs, many overlook the effect of flu season on their pets. Canine influenza was discovered several years ago and poses a severe threat to all dogs, especially those with flat noses, such as Shih-Tzus, Pekingese and Pugs. Dogs have not had the chance to build up immunity to the disease, thus putting them all at risk.

Most dogs that contract this virus show mild symptoms, such as a cough, runny nose and fever, however, more severe cases can develop pneumonia and ultimately lead to death. As with the flu in humans, canine influenza is easily spread. It can be spread by direct contact with an infected dog, by contaminated objects and also by humans who have been in contact with an infected dog. Canine influenza is able to be diagnosed and is treatable with responsive care of medication and fluids.

Though winter does present new dangers for your pet, it can also be a very enjoyable time of the year. Whether it is playing in the snow with your furry friend or snuggling by a fireplace, you and your pet can the most out of winter months by preparing for the change.

To learn more about caring for your pet during the cold weather and other helpful tips, visit http://www.petfirst.com.

About PetFirst
PetFirst is the fastest growing pet insurer in North America offering easy-to-understand life-long coverage for dogs and cats. PetFirst’s comprehensive coverage is unique in the industry providing simplified policies with coverage for hereditary, chronic and breed-specific conditions with no per diagnosis limits. PetFirst offers pet insurance in all 50 states and the District of Columbia through animal welfare agencies, retailers, employers as well as other partners. PetFirst polices are underwritten by American Alternative Insurance Corporation (Munich Re) which is rated by A.M. Best as A+. Additional services are underwritten by Lloyd’s. For more information about PetFirst pet insurance, visit http://www.petfirst.com or call 877-894-7387.

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