The shift to winter weather, mild as it may be in Bend, means it's time to add some precaution and extra protection to your pet's outdoor excursions. Freezing temperatures mean people put out de-icer on their sidewalks, short-haired breeds have less protection against the cold and smaller pets tend to hide in wheel wells and engines to stay warm. If you need guidance about what's right for your pet during winter, call your veterinarian in Bend for advice. Following are some tips to help you and your pet deal with the cold and stay comfortable.
1. Protect Sensitive Paws From Snow, Ice and Rock Salt
The pads and toes of your dog and cat are prone to getting dried out from lack of moisture, walking over rock salt and de-icer, and they can experience snowballs forming and sticking between their toes. This can lead to cracked skin and sores on the pads and can be painful for the pet. Before going out, put booties on your pet if they tolerate them. If they don't, rubbing petroleum jelly on their paws works and is safe for pets. Be sure to wipe off their paws after out walking on rock salt and de-icing agents so they don’t ingest these things when grooming themselves. If you notice any signs of illness from having ingested them, take your pet immediately to your veterinary clinic in Bend.
2. Feed a Little Extra at Each Meal
If your pet spends a lot of time outdoors, they need every calorie to keep themselves warm, even if they're a cold-weather breed with a dense coat. Put a little extra food in their bowls at mealtime to help them compensate and maintain a healthy weight. You can gradually dial back the extra as the weather gets warmer.
3. Check Wheels and Bang on Your Car Hood Before Turning it On
Cats are known to find shelter in wheel wells and car engines during cold weather. Look around your car wheels and check underneath if possible. Smack your hood with a fist to make enough noise to chase out a cat that might be hiding inside.
4. Dry Them Off After They've Been Outside in Wet Weather
Pets don't always have coats designed to resist wet weather, and when they do, their undercoats can harbor fungus and bacteria. Take a moment to towel dry them off after they've spent time outdoors in rain or snow. They dry off faster, get warm quickly and won't radiate the smell of damp animal that can become unpleasant.
5. Help Pets Out With Extra Layers
Short haired breeds have coats that are designed to shed heat, not keep it in. Fit them with a coat or sweater that helps them retain their body heat and prevent them from shivering. Long-haired breeds typically do just fine in colder weather, but if you shave their coats for maintenance or convenience, get them a coat to make up for the lack of fur.
6. Keep Outdoor Excursions With Your Dog Brief
Dogs obviously have more fur than humans, but apart from certain breeds, they feel the cold the same as humans do. Don't stay out for too long with your dog apart from blowing off excess energy. You want your pet to warm up quickly and relax after going outdoors, something that's difficult for them to do if they're too cold.