SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Lifestyle

January 11, 2013

Make sure your pets have a warm, safe winter

Winter is a time when the temperatures drop and we all have the instinct to hibernate a bit. It is a great time to stay and snuggle with your cat or dog while watching TV or reading a book. You may not want to go out, but your dog probably does. Most cats these days are indoor cats, but the occasional cat insists on having access to the outdoors. There are a few precautions you can take to keep your pet safe in the winter weather.

If you have your pet in the car, keep the heat on. Do not leave a pet unattended in the car for more than 10 minutes if temperatures are below 40 degrees.

If you are walking outdoors, try to avoid rock salt, as it can irritate your pet’s feet. Use sand or cat litter on ice at your own property. Wash feet off after the walk if you are walking your pet on any sidewalks or streets where rock salt is regularly applied. I have purchased winter booties for my dogs but had zero success keeping them on their feet. If your walk takes you near a lake, keep your dog off the ice. You don’t want your dog to be the big rescue attempt featured on the evening news. The best leash to use is one that does not extend. A dog can chase a squirrel onto the ice much faster than you can hit the lock button with your thumb.

Flea and tick preventative and heartworm medication must be used monthly throughout the winter. Deer tick nymphs are out in the winter and can attach to your dog. The later onset of frost and snaps of warm weather during the winter allow mosquitoes, the insect that transmits heartworm microfilaria to your dog, to survive longer into the winter. Most heartworm preventatives also worm your dog monthly for intestinal parasites such as roundworm and hookworm that your dog can transmit to you. Your dog sheds the parasites in feces. The eggs live in the soil through deep frost and hot summers for years. The hookworm egg can migrate right through your skin. The roundworm egg must be ingested. These parasites don’t know where to go in the human body, so they wander everywhere. Human ophthalmologists have found roundworms in people’s eyes.

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