Winter Pet Safety

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My husband and I have recently become "Dog Grandparents" to our oldest daughter's new pup! Meghan rescued this beautiful girl from an organization that takes pets from high kill shelters, and re-homes them in the DC area. Josephine March Murphy is 7 years old and is just the sweetest thing. As I write this, she is currently charming the pants off of everyone in the veterinarian's office at her first checkup.

Since I'm currently thinking about furry friends and family, it seems like a good time to remind everyone about the unique challenges that winter presents in the colder areas of the country, like where we live in New England. Here are some good tips to consider as we head into the cold season to make sure your pets stay safe:

- During the winter, there is no such thing as an outdoor cat. Make sure yours only goes out when you are home to let them back in when they've had enough outside time!

-  Pets must have fresh water at all times, especially in winter when the dehydration is more common. Check the water bowl regularly to ensure it’s full and unfrozen. Use a tip-proof bowl to keep Fido’s paws from freezing. And never use a metal water bowl—the old wives tale is true: the tongue will stick to wet metal, and injury will result.

 - If your dog is a short-hair, you may want to buy him a sweater for his daily walk to help him keep his body temperature up. (Josie has long hair, but this Dog Grandma is going to be shopping for a coat for her anyway to make sure she stays toasty on those wintry walks. Besides, she needs to be styling as she walks the streets of DC....)

 - In really frigid weather, don’t take long walks. The salt and chemicals used to de-ice roads can irritate paws, and when your dog licks his paws later, the chemicals can irritate his digestive tract. If your dog’s paws do come in contact with these substances when out for a walk, rinse the feet off and dry thoroughly once you’re back inside.

 - Antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid spilled on your driveway smell sweet and taste good to both dogs and cats. As little as a teaspoon of these substances can kill your pet. Symptoms to look for: acting “drunk”; lack of coordination; vomiting; depression; and increased water intake and urination are all signs that your pet has imbibed. Call your vet immediately if you suspect antifreeze poisoning—it can kill in as little as four hours.

As I finish this up, Josie has been given a clean bill of health and our whole family is looking forward to meeting her when she visits us over the holidays!