By: Dr. Colleen McCaffertyChief of Staff

Whether you built a snowman, got into a snowball fight or just curled up on the couch, we hope everyone enjoyed Maryland’s first snow storm of the season! Looks like we are due for quite the temperature drop, and even some more snow, so we thought it would be helpful to share the following seven cold weather tips:

Pets should not be left in the car. Most people know not to leave their pets in a car in the summer, but the same goes for the winter. The inside of a car can get extremely cold and a pet can easily freeze. Remember if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pet!

Kick the tires. As the temperature drops, dogs and cats sometimes search for warmer places to relax. These spots end up being underneath car tires and even under the hood near a warm engine. Make sure the coast is clear before starting your car by tapping on the hood and kicking the tires.

Antifreeze is poisonous to your pets. Make sure to wipe up any spills and keep these and other harmful chemicals out of your pet’s reach.

Cold Gear. I am in love with the Under Armour cold gear gift that I got this holiday season. Remember that even though dogs have an undercoat to their fur, which helps them to regulate temperature, they can still benefit from a jacket, fleece and boots as temperatures drop below freezing. This is important for pets with short hair.

Stay Active. Don’t let the cold weather slow you down! Walking, hiking and running are great ways to stay active this winter for you and your pet. There are several local trails and paths in Anne Arundel County that are dog friendly and free. Whether it’s walking, running or frolicking in the snow, try to keep your pet’s outdoor activity to 30 minutes at a time as the temperature keeps dropping.

Check your dog’s paw pads for ice balls. If your dog is constantly lifting his/her feet, or appears to be walking strangely, his feet are probably too cold or ice may be forming which can cause frostbite. To reduce the risk of ice balls, keep inter-pad hair trimmed neatly and short during the winter months.

Salt your margarita glass, not your sidewalk. One of the biggest threats to healthy paw pads is the salt used to melt ice on driveways, roads and sidewalks. Prolonged contact can lead to cracked skin and chemical burns on dog paws. Ingestion can cause illness, as well. Try to keep your dog off the salty sidewalk whenever possible. Here at Huffard Animal Hospital, we use a pet safe alternative.

If your pet suffers from exposure to the freezing weather, it is best to wrap them up in a blanket and go to your veterinarian immediately. If you have any questions, give us a call at 410.768.3620 or schedule an appointment.

Happy snow shoveling!

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