Protect Your Pets This Winter
In Western New York we are in a deep freeze — it is about ten degrees with sub zero windchills. At our house in Alexandria Bay, in Northern New York the temperatures are below zero with double digit windchills. What does that mean? Does it mean I am giving up pet blogging and taking up weather forecasting or pointing out the obvious? Not likely!
What it means is that it’s time to think about how to protect your pets this winter. This thought was driven home to me a few moments ago as I was working and a tiny dog was walking around the neighborhood. It had a collar on and its (I don’t know if it was a boy or girl so forgive the “its”) owner was strolling along behind. This dog had no jacket on, was a short haired breed and was prancing around, lifting alternating feet off the ground — it was obvious to me that it was (and is) far too cold for this tiny dog to be going on a walk with its owner. The owner should have taken note of how the little dog was acting and picked it up and taken it back inside a warm house.
Protect Your Pets This Winter
Know your pet’s tolerance. Henrietta doesn’t like cold weather and has a lower tolerance for it now that she is older and has hip and joint issues. What that means is that I will take her outside to do her business on our regular routine, but it will be a crapshoot as to whether she will do anything out there. She will usually pee, but because she spends so much time finding that perfect spot on which to poo, her feet get too cold and before she goes, she is limping. Up she comes, into my jacket she goes and back into the house we march. Am I looking at picking up poo in the house on cold days? Yep. I don’t love it, but what’s a pet parent to do?
When Spenser was still alive he would revel in this weather. We would be the family whose dog was out in the sub zero temperatures and you’d be wondering, “should we be calling animal control?” Spenser would fight (and sometimes get bitey) if we tried to get him into the house in the winter. With his double coat he wasn’t impacted by the cold. We would let him out and check on him every few minutes, but we couldn’t get him in. When we brought him in, he would pace and bark and scratch at the door until we let him back out. Again, you need to know what your dog can tolerate.
Our cats never go out of doors in the winter. In this weather, I urge anyone who has “outdoor” cats to at least provide them a space in which they can go to get away from the frigid temperatures and be safe.
If you use rock salt and have pets in the house, use pet safe rock salt. I do have paw balm for both dogs but neither of them will sit still for it. Henrietta can’t walk up or down stairs any more so keeping her out of the rock salt is easier. We do use pet safe rock salt and make sure we clean out the snow and any salt from between Murray’s pads when he comes back in.
Have additional food. If the roads get impassable and are closed because of weather I always make sure I have enough food in the house prior to any storm hitting the area — believe me, in NY the meteorologists tout the “impending blizzardy weather” for days before they ever potentially hit so there is time to prepare.
We always take a trip to the pet store to get crickets for the dragons and geckos and there is always enough food for the cats, dogs, reptiles and humans in the house if there is a storm.
Last year we had a power outage in the winter and I wasn’t as prepared as I’d anticipated. I worried about the reptiles being warm enough so I had to run to the big box store and invested in the silvery heat blankets and the heat packs that you use at sporting events. We wrapped the tanks and hoped for the best — they did all survive last year and i am happy I am prepared this year.
We have dozens of additional blankets in the house and if the power goes out I snuggle into blankets with all of the pets who will snuggle under and we can keep warm — we’ve done it in the past and we weathered the power outage.
Have a travel contingency plan. When I am traveling to Alexandria Bay, it is a close to four hour trip and I leave the house prepared. I have food, water, blankets and any other item I think I may need for an emergency. I have kitty litter, a shovel, a charger for my phone and I track the wather along the route. If the weather is too bad, I will never risk harm to my beloved fur-babies and will cancel any upcoming trip. Because the weather can change from mile to mile, I know of hotels along the route that will take pets and I make certain I have enough cash with me to pay for a room if necessary.
What steps do you take to keep your pets safe in the winter?