What can you do to keep your family dog or cat safe this winter? Lots! Here are a few tips from the animal lovers and management at RoseLake Estates and the Humane Society of Hamilton County:
- Shorten walks when temperatures go below freezing. If it is too cold for you, it is probably too cold for your dog. Paws and bellies are sensitive to snow and ice. Check for signs of paw injury, such as cracked or bleeding paws.
- Heavy snow means more lost pets. More pets become lost in the winter than any other season because snowfall can disguise the scents that help your dog find her way home. Consider a reflective collar and have your dog microchipped. Keep him leashed even in snow. In case you do become separated, make sure their collars have up-to-date contact information.
- Don’t let your dog walk on our frozen lake. Even if it looks frozen, and you see animal tracks on our ice, don’t let your dog walk across Rose Lake. It’s deeper than you think and parts of it don’t freeze deeply enough to support the weight of your dog running across it. He or she could be seriously hurt or killed if the ice breaks.
- Dogs can get frostbite. They can get hypothermia, too. Some dogs are more susceptible to the cold than others, especially short-coated, thin, elderly, small breeds, or very young dogs. If your dog enjoys being outdoors and you will be outside longer than a few minutes, consider outfitting him with a sweater to keep it warm.
- Bang on your car’s hood before you get inside. Cats (and wild animals) look for a warm, protected place to sleep. Under the hood of your car or in the wheel wells are often seen as perfect places for safe sleep. If you start your car and a cat is sleeping on your tire, it can be severely hurt or even killed by moving engine parts. Prevent injuries by banging loudly on your hood before starting your car. This will wake up the cat and give it a chance to escape before starting your car.
- Purchase pet-safe de-icers for your home During winter walks, your dog’s paws can pick up all kinds of toxic chemicals – salt, antifreeze, and de-icers. Be sure to wipe off your dog’s paws when you return from walks to prevent her from licking her paws to remove snow and ice and getting seriously sick.
- Don’t bring your dog along in your car when you shop. Just as hot cars are dangerous for pets in the summer, cold cars pose a threat, too. Only take your pets in the car if it is necessary, and never leave them unattended.
- Keep them warm – inside – and provide more food. Pets need more food to replace energy lost from trying to stay warm. Please remember that chaining a dog outside is against Indiana law.
- Be prepared. Winter brings extreme weather that can cause power outages and dead batteries. Have an emergency plan and make sure they include your pets. Have enough food, water, and medication to last your pets at least five days.