A few things to keep in mind for your pet as winter approaches:
Families frequently travel during the holiday season and leave pets in lodging facilities that require vaccinations, reservations, and paperwork to be completed prior to their stay. Planning in advance can decrease the stress for both you and your pet when it is time for these periods away from home. Remember to check with your lodging facility if your pet has special needs such as medication or health conditions to ensure that they are able to accommodate your pet’s needs. Gather their belongings well in advance of their stay or make a list of items they may need including: medications, bedding (if applicable), toys (if allowed), food (supplied at some facilities; however many owners prefer to supply their own in order to avoid digestive upset), and all necessary paperwork and/or records that are required for their stay. Be sure to include emergency contacts in the event that you are not able to be contacted. Make certain you discuss your thoughts and expectations for care for your pet with your emergency contact prior to leaving.
Winter and the holiday season also mean an increase in potential hazards to your pet. Antifreeze, sidewalk salt, holiday plants, parties, and holiday meals all provide your pet with additional opportunities to be harmed. Be aware of your pet’s surroundings and keep toxic substances out of their reach. Many holiday plants, such as mistletoe and poinsettias are toxic as well; therefore, owners are encouraged to keep plants out of reach or avoid purchasing plants that may tempt their pets. Additives for live Christmas tree water are also toxic and should not be used in homes with pets. Pets should be confined away from visitors during holiday parties whenever possible to prevent escape from open doors or food handouts from guests that may prove hazardous to the pet’s health. Bones from meals should not be shared with pets as they are potential choking or obstruction hazards and many have a splintering affect that can penetrate the lining of the digestive tract.
Consider ways to keep your pet active during the winter, and monitor food consumption and weight gain during winter months as this is the time of year when many pets pack on the pounds. Pets that are cooped up indoors will need alternate forms of exercise and play to prevent boredom. Owners should be cautious of pets being exposed to the cold weather due to hypothermia and frostbite. If it is too cold for their human companions, it is too cold for pets!
Ask us at Animal Central for more ways to prepare your pet for the winter or visit: http://www.bestfriends.org/theanimals/pdfs/allpets/petsandholidays.pdf
Dr. George Stroberg, DVM and Staff