Now that the cold weather is finally here, there are a few tips we want to share with you to make sure your pets stay safe and healthy during the winter months.
Make sure you remember to have extra water and food available for your pets in case the inclement weather prevents you from leaving the apartment (or more likely, prevents delivery of supplies from various sources we Manhattanites are so dependent upon). If your pet is on medication, do not wait until you are down to the last pill to call for a refill.
For those with old, arthritic pets, make sure they have a nice, soft, warm bed. Their arthritis may be worse with the cold weather. Please consult your vet to discuss various ways to manage pain. Heating pads can be dangerous and cause electric shock or thermal burn, especially if your pet likes to chew on cords or even the pad itself, or if they are debilitated and cannot move away from pad.
Small dogs, dogs with less fur or body fat, young puppies, old dogs, especially those with chronic diseases (such as kidney disease, Cushing’s, etc.) are more susceptible to the cold. To prevent hypothermia, have them wear a warm coat when out and keep the walks short.
If possible, put booties on your dogs to protect their paws from ice and salt. If you cannot get booties on your dog, use a small amount of petroleum jelly, or get a commercially available product called “Musher’s Secret Paw Protector” and apply on the paws before heading out. Remember to clean the paws thoroughly when you get home and inspect closely for any cuts or irritation, particularly in the areas between the pads.
Beware of icy patches and wet areas on metal grates/covers and certain stone surfaces as these can be very slippery. Slipping and falling can cause sprains, ligament tears, fractures, etc. As the ice and snow melt, don’t let your dog drink the melted water as it is often contaminated with the deicing salt, which can cause diarrhea and even toxicity if they use deicers that are not pet safe. Also, beware of antifreeze. It is sweet tasting and dogs like licking it. Antifreeze damages the kidneys and is deadly without immediate medical treatment.
Finally, watch out for things that can cause shock or electrocution. Don’t let your dog sniff
around open light post covers as there are often exposed wires and can electrocute your dog. Also, avoid stepping on any ConEd junction box covers, manhole covers, metal grates, etc. These metal covers on the ground may have stray voltage that can cause anything from a nasty shock to electrocution. It is especially worse in the winter when the salt mixed with melting slush seeps under these covers and corrodes the wires and conduct the electricity from the faulty wiring to the metal covers.
–Dr Corinna Lai