Brrrr! It’s cold outside! We wanted to be sure to warn of the danger warm vehicle engines can pose to cats that spend time outdoors in the winter.
As temperatures plunge this winter, cats that spend time outdoors will search for any warm place they can find. One particularly attractive site for many of these cats is the warm engine of your car. This can be a particularly dangerous place for a cat to curl up, since they can be severely injured or killed when the engine is started. Help keep your own and your neighborhood cats safe with these tips:
Keep your cat indoors
The best advice we can offer regarding your own cat is to simply to keep him indoors during the winter. This would prevent access to warm engines, with the added benefit of avoiding other dangers, including exposure, predators, moving vehicles, or injuries or disease transmission from other cats. Here are some helpful hints for keeping your cat happy indoors!
Check on your cat before taking any trips
Finding and checking on your cat before leaving is a good way to make sure they are not in your own vehicle before you leave (or anyone else’s vehicle, too!).
Give any cats that might be hiding under your car a warning
Even with your own cat safely inside, neighborhood and feral cats could still be hiding under your car. We suggest that you pound on your hood, slam the car door, or even sound your horn before you start the engine. Make sure you give them plenty of time to wiggle out of their hiding spot before you start that engine.
It’s always a great idea to take a quick look under the car to make sure no one visible under the car. You never know, you may even find a leak or notice that low tire, too!
Let’s keep everyone safe out there!
Your pet’s fur coat will not necessarily protect him/her from this cold weather. Different dogs will have varying levels of tolerance to temperature extremes and can be susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite, regardless of breed or fur type. Some breeds are built for the cold, so can spend more time in cold temperatures than others. Cold tolerant breeds, such as Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes, are great examples of dogs that are made to play in the snow, but be aware they still can suffer from exposure. Many small and toy breeds and shorter, thinner coated dogs will be unable to spend much time in the cold.
Here are some tips to help keep your pet warm this winter:
- Limit time outside for your pet, allowing for shorter periods of exposure for the less cold-tolerant dogs.
- Monitor snow-play closely–dog playing may generate a lot of heat, but may lose it very quickly. A wet coat will make that happen even faster.
- Take shorter walks with your dog, just more frequently.
- Add extra indoor playtime.
- Consider adding a dog coat to help maintain body temperature. The other dogs will not laugh, I promise!
- Using Dog Booties can also help prevent heat loss, as well as protecting the foot pads from ice lacerations.
- Pets with arthritis may have more difficulties during cold weather, and may even be more susceptible to injuries due to increased stiffness and slippery walkways or stairs. Check with your pet’s veterinarian for managing any of your pet’s medical conditions during cold weather.
- Outdoor pets should always have a warm, covered shelter and open, clean water. These pets will also likely need extra calories during the cold months, so check with their doctor on their specific recommendations.
Other winter hazards to avoid:
- Antifreeze is a very common poison and usually way too easy for pets to access this time of year. It tastes good to our pets, but can be very deadly. Clean up any leaks or spills immediately.
- Deicing chemicals/salts can also pose a hazard. Be sure to wipe off your pet’s feet when they come in to prevent tracking it in the house and to keep them from licking it off of their paws.
- When wiping off their feet, check over the pads for any cuts, scrapes, or splits. These can be very painful and easily get infected. Avoid walking your dog where the ice has formed hard ridges or edges, they can slice into the feet as easily as a knife! Consider no-slip dog booties if you run or walk with your dog in uneven, icy areas.
Dogs having fun in the snow is one of the joys of winter, but we also want to be sure they do so safely!