BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Pet parents across New England are being urged to make sure their animals are safe and sound this weekend, as the first snowstorm of the year rolls east.
Here are ten tips to make sure you're doing all you can to keep your four-legged friends snuggled up during the snow.
1.Be A Homebody
Who doesn't love snuggling up when it's cold outside anyway? According to the U.S Humane Society, one of the most important things to do is to make sure all pets are indoors. "Under no circumstances should pet cats be left outdoors, even if they roam outside during other seasons. Dogs are happiest when taken out frequently for walks and exercise, but kept inside the rest of the time." If your pet starts to show signs of frostbite (shivering, changing skin color,) they advise you to immediately take them to a vet.
Freezing cold snow between your toes doesn't sound very comfortable, so you can safely assume your dog doesn't enjoy it either. The ASCPA suggests as you get home from a walk you should remove any snow from between your pup's foot pads, towel dry their bodies completely, and make sure your home is well humidified. Also, check their feet for for ice, salt, antifreeze, or any other chemicals that may have become lodged in their paws. Alternatively, you could invest in paw wax or some super-cute doggie booties.
3.Keep The Tags On
Even the most obedient dog can get a little carried away while dashing through the snow. Just in case of a quick escape, make sure you keep your pet's collar and tags on so they don't get completely lost in the white wilderness. Since ice and snow can mask scents, your pet may have a harder time finding their way home after the snow.
4.Shelter From The Storm
If you cannot bring your animals inside (think: chickens, horses, goats,) the Red Cross says the best thing is to make sure they have protection from the elements, and that their food and water is not blocked by snow drifts or ice. The enclosure should be draft-free, large enough for them to sit and lie down, but small enough to hold their body heat. Raising the floor a few inches off the ground and covering it in straw or cedar shavings can help, as can putting a waterproof burlap cover over any open doorways.
5.Cut Down On Car Time
Petfinder warns that leaving your pup in a car during extremely cold weather could be a fatal move. "A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold. Your companion animal could freeze to death." So remember if they can't come inside with you at your new location, it's best to leave them at home.
A long haired dog can keep pretty toasty in cold weather, but short haired breeds are more likely to feel the freeze. Weather.gov says it's a bad idea to shave your dog's hair down to the skin in the winter, but if your dog is naturally less hairy, a coat or sweater can help them retain much needed body heat. Plus, they'll be the most fashion forward pup at the park.
7.Skip Bath Time
Just like their people, dogs can develop itchy dry skin in the winter. Pet Poison Helpline says it's best to avoid bathing your dog on cold days because the shampoo could actually cause their skin dryness and itching to worsen. Keeping a ceiling fan on at home and making sure they're well hydrated can ease the irritation.
8.It's Bulking Season
Outdoor animals will likely require more calories in the winter, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. That extra food will help them generate enough body heat and energy to stay warm. If you want to find out more specific amounts to offer your outdoor friend, your veterinarian can give you increased nutritional recommendations.
9.Check Under The Hood
Boston's Animal Rescue League notes that during cold weather, cats love the residual heat from a recently running car engine. So don't forget to check around and under your vehicle before turning the ignition. Giving the hood a quick pound can wake up a sleeping feline and avoid some dangerous consequences.
10.Take Care Of Feral Cats
They may not have a forever home, but cats that roam free can get frostbite too. Boston's ARL says a DIY shelter in your back yard could prove to be a life saver for wild cats, and their website has a video to coach you through how to make it.
If you're not great at DIY, WBZ NewsRadio's Kendall Buhl (@KBuhlWBZ) reports that the MSPCA is giving away free winter cat housing structures. Listen here: