Although we may live in sunny San Diego, temps can drop low, particularly overnight. It is important to keep pets warm in the winter. Here are 10 tips for giving animals extra TLC during winter cold:
1. Keep pets inside at night and during chilly days.
2. When dogs need to go potty, go along to monitor how cold it is.
3. If your pets continue to spend time outside during the cold, make sure they have a draft-free shelter large enough for them to stand and turn around, and bedding to help insulate them.
4. When grooming pets, keep their fur longer to provide added warmth. Some animals will be more comfortable with a sweater.
5. Staying warm requires extra calories. Talk to your veterinarian for advice on the proper diet for animals who spend time outdoors when the temperature drops.
6. If you feed animals outdoors, use plastic food and water bowls, since your pet’s tongue may stick and freeze to metal. Also, in the case of a rare cold spell, make sure water left outside does not freeze.
7. Horses and other livestock need a windbreak, cover, warm bedding, abundant high-quality feed and fresh water. Watch out for signs of frostbite and hypothermia: ice on body and limbs, shivering, weakness, and skin that changes to bright red, then to pale and black. Seek veterinary care immediately if these signs occur.
8. Parked cars may attract outdoor cats and small wildlife who crawl up under the hood looking for warmth. Bang on your car’s hood before starting your engine to scare any animals away.
9. Poisons frequently used in winter include antifreeze and rock salt. These are not as common in San Diego as elsewhere, so you may need to keep in mind when traveling. Clean up spills and wipe your dog’s paws to prevent licking and ingesting these. Contact your veterinarian if you see signs of toxic ingestion, which include excessive drooling, vomiting and depression.
10. If you see a pet who is not well cared for in the cold, politely share your concern with their owner, because everyone does not realize the risks of cold weather.
San Diego Humane Society’s Humane Law Enforcement at (619) 299-7012 (press 1).