JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Exposure to dry, cold air and chilly rain, sleet, and snow can cause chapped paws and itchy, flaking skin, but these aren’t the only discomforts pets can suffer.
Here are some cold weather tips from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA):
- Repeatedly coming out of the cold into the dry heat of your home can cause itchy, flaking skin. Keep your home humidified and towel dry your pet as soon as he comes inside, paying special attention to his feet and in-between the toes. Remove any snow balls from between his footpads.
- Bring a towel on long walks to clean off stinging, irritated paws. After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet and stomach to remove ice, salt, and chemicals—and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes.
- Bathe your pets as little as possible during cold spells. Washing too often can remove essential oils and increase the chance of developing dry, flaky skin. If your pooch must be bathed, ask your vet to recommend a moisturizing shampoo and/or rinse.
- Massaging petroleum jelly or other paw protectants into paw pads before going outside can help protect from salt and chemical agents. Booties provide even more coverage and can also prevent sand and salt from getting lodged between bare toes and causing irritation. Use pet-friendly ice melts whenever possible.
- Avoid spills! Antifreeze attracts cats and dogs because it is very sweet to taste, but it is extremely poisonous and can cause serious illness or death when ingested. Be sure to clean up any antifreeze that spills in your garage, and keep the bottle somewhere your pets cannot access.
- Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm in the wintertime. Feeding your pet a little bit more during the cold weather can provide much-needed calories, and making sure she has plenty of water to drink will help keep her well-hydrated and her skin less dry.
- Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.
- Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside. If left outdoors, pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured, or killed. In addition, don’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death.
- Leave them home! Just as hot cars are dangerous for pets in the summer, cold cars pose a threat as well! Only take your pets in the car if it is necessary, and never leave them unattended.
- Be prepared! Winter brings extreme weather that can cause power outages. Have an emergency plan and make sure they include your pets.