Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services offered the following tips.
- If your pet is primarily an inside pet, the cold weather can be miserable. Animals that spend their time indoors don't develop the thick winter coats of their outdoor cousins.
- Indoor pets also suffer from dry skin in the winter from the effects of central heating. There are all kinds of products in the pet supply stores to help combat this problem and your best advice always comes from your veterinarian.
- Very thin-coated animals or short-haired breeds, such as Chihuahuas, benefit from sweaters with high collars when they must go outside.
- Winter is hardest on the outside pet. Cold weather combined with our famous high humidity and rain can make your pet miserable and in some cases put his life in danger. Special care should be taken to make sure your pet has a warm -- and equally important -- dry place to be. Roomy doghouses, raised off the ground with insulating bedding, can be very effective. It's very important that the housing be free from drafts and any dampness. Doors should be covered so wind and water can't chill the pet's bedding.
- Remember, when the temperature drops too low, it's time to bring the dog in the house. TV weather warnings of "PPP" (pipes, plants and pets) means bring the pets inside.
- Puppies, kittens, and elderly animals should never be exposed to the cold.
- Cats will seek the warmest place possible. Keep your cats inside and remember to honk your car horn before starting the engine. Loose cats sometimes curl up on motors to keep warm.
- Dogs and cats are attracted to the sweet smell of antifreeze which contains ethylene glycol. A tiny lick can kill your dog or cat, so make sure to check your car for leaks on your driveway or gutter. Keep containers tightly closed and clean up spills immediately.
Rat, Mouse Poisons
- Rat and mouse poisons are commonly used during the winter months. Place them out of reach as they can cause fatal bleeding or kidney failure in your pet.
Remember that cold temperatures require animals to burn more calories to stay warm. You may find you have to increase your pet's ration of pet food until the weather warms up. Be sure the pet still has plenty of clean drinking water that does not freeze.
If your pet gets too cold, bring him into a warm area. Do not use extremes like hot water to thaw toes and ears and do not rub any frozen areas. This could cause more harm to already damaged tissue.
Contact your veterinarian or take the pet to an emergency clinic as soon as possible. Keep telephone numbers for your vet and a local emergency vet clinic in a convenient location.
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