BOSTON - Now that we've weathered the first major winter storm of the season, it's safe to say it not only looks like winter outside but definitely feels like it!
As we take all possible steps to keep ourselves safe and warm, it's just as important to think about keeping your pets protected from the cold.
Seasoned pet owners know the drill, but its always important to remind those with little furry friends of the small things that can make a big difference.
First rule of thumb: if it's too cold for you to be outside, it is definitely too cold for your pet. Make sure to bring your pets inside and, on colder days, limit the time spent outside for walks or bathroom breaks to as little as possible.
Before heading outside, preparation is key. As you don your jacket, gloves, scarf and boots, remember to prepare your pet for the outside elements as well. If you're walking your longer coat dog, let their fur grow out for the winter as it'll provide your pooch with the necessary warmth and protection it needs. For shorter coat dogs (and cats, if you can manage to put a leash on yours) sweaters, coats and booties go a long way to protect their bodies and feet.
On your way back home, wipe off your pet's stomach and paws. Sidewalks are often treated with chemicals, which can irritate your animal's paws and can be poisonous if ingested. Some pet owners even opt to use a protective balm if your pup can't stand to wear protective booties. You can find more tips on how to protect your pet's paws during the winter here.
This one is a given, but needs to be reiterated all the time (even in the summertime) - don't leave your pets alone in a cold car. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS ALONE IN A COLD CAR. Not only is it inhumane when temperatures drop, but it's also illegal to do so in the state of Massachusetts.
Pay close attention to your pet's grooming and health. Animals with matted coats cannot keep themselves warm and require an extra layer for protection. As for long-haired pets, just letting their fur grow out isn't enough; especially during heavy periods of shedding, your pet will need some extra help maintaining a healthy coat. Senior pets also suffer from increased arthritis pain in the cold, so make sure to check with your vet the steps you can take to keep your best friend comfortable.
Even if you don't own a pet, this one is particularly important: always check under the hood of your car or on top of your tires as feral cats often warm themselves up in any little nook and cranny they can find. Always pound on your hood and give your car a quick visual check before starting your engine to avoid burning or severely injuring any little ones seeking shelter from the cold.
Finally, make sure to cuddle up with your best friend and keep each other warm during the winter season! For more information, visit the Animal Rescue League of Boston's website here.
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