Katie Flory, community relations director for the Maryland SPCA, shares the following techniques to care for your pets this winter.
Keep Them Safe
Cats will try to find warm places to get out of the cold. Make sure you’re checking in and around your vehicle before you start the ignition.
Antifreeze is extremely toxic to both cats and dogs. Keep it out of reach of your pets and immediately clean up any leaking antifreeze from your car. Use ice-melting products that are safe for pets. Remove any material between your pet’s toes to avoid harming their feet.
Offer Them a Warm, Dry Place
Animals can get hypothermia and frostbite just like people. Don’t keep them outside for an extended time and make sure they have indoor access. If you take them outside, wipe them down when you come back inside, dry them off and have a warm, dry place for them in the house, such as a pet bed with blankets.
If you have to keep your pet outside, make sure your pet has a warm spot. Dog houses should be at least a foot off the ground. Avoid blankets because they can get wet. Flory recommends using hay as bedding material.
Water in pet dishes placed outside can freeze. Check these dishes frequently and ensure your pet has the proper amount of water at all times.
Outfit Them in Winter Wear
Consider getting booties for dogs to wear when walking on ice and snow. Any brand will work, but make sure the booties are not too tight. You’ll have to train them to use the booties. Get your pets to try on the booties indoors first. Reward them with treats so that they have a positive association with the booties.
You can also get a sweater for dogs with short hair. Make sure the sweater is comfortable and that your pet can move freely while wearing it.
Exercise and Entertain Them
Pets need exercise, especially during the winter. If you can’t get them outdoors, you can try some indoor games. Kong toys are great because you can stuff them with peanut butter, fruits or yogurt. These toys give your cats and dogs something to do that uses their brains as much as their bodies.
Play hide and seek with a toy. You can hide the toy and take your cat or dog around the house so that your pet can sniff it out.
Wands are great toys for cats. You may also want to try putting objects in puzzle boxes. Or ball up a piece of paper and let your pets play with it.