February 2008 Newsletter
Dr. Jane Bicks, DVM
HealthyPetNet Product Formulator
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Keeping Our Pets Safe

Although I live in Florida, it still gets cold here on my small farm in the winter. In fact, just recently the overnight temperature was forecast to fall to 35 degrees and I made sure that all my outside animals were safe and warm and my dog, Otto, and his feline playmates were just as comfortable inside the house. This experience reminded me of how hard the winter cold can be on our companion animals. It can even be deadly at times. And while I am sure that most of you do not live with two horses, a goat, a cow, a dog and two cats, protecting your companion animals from the hazards of the cold weather is quick and easy.

First and foremost, the majority of our companion animals live indoors and they are accustomed to a warm environment. So please keep in mind that indoor pets cannot adjust to the harsh cold just because they are animals. Remember, if it is too cold for you outside then it is too cold for your pet. If your pet is accustomed to being outside during the day, make sure he or she is properly protected. For dogs, a dry dog house with a raised floor and some thick bedding made of straw or blankets will help keep them as comfortable and safe as possible. Check the water bowl to make sure it’s not frozen. Animals should not stay outside for an unlimited amount of time if it is very cold. Young, old and sick animals are particularly vulnerable to the cold and should not be exposed to freezing temperatures for any length of time. Please make sure you consult your veterinarian if you have any questions about this. In the meantime, here are some simple guidelines.

Indoor Tips

Fireplaces and space heaters are great to warm up a room, but they also can spell trouble for companion animals. Most pets will try to get close to a heat source and may accidentally get burned or even tip a space heater over. So keep an eye on your dog or cat so everyone stays safe and cozy.

Pet beds are great places in which to snuggle and keep warm during the winter months. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors and price ranges. Cats love the winter sun, so why not clear a spot near a window for your cat to bask tranquilly during the day.

Indoor heat and humidity changes can raise havoc with your companion animal’s skin and coat, so take a little extra time now and then to brush your furry friend.
Skin & Coat



Outdoor Tips

Antifreeze is deadly. If enough is ingested, it can cause kidney failure. It is a cruel fact that this toxic substance has a sweet taste, so animals are drawn to it. Even a small amount can be extremely hazardous to your pet’s health. Please clean up spills in the driveway and store containers out of the reach of your companion animals.  An alternative is to purchase a non-toxic antifreeze.  Check with your car mechanic for more information on this.

Although the salt used to melt snow and ice on roadways helps us drive safely, it can be harmful to the pads of your pet’s feet, so make sure you wipe the feet with a damp towel after a romp outside.

Cats and other small animals will often climb inside a parked car, near the engine because it is a warm refuge. Before you start your car, bang on the hood or honk your horn to scare any animals away and avoid a horrible accident.

Before taking your dog out for a winter walk, fit him or her with a sweater or heavy tee shirt. This is an inexpensive way to protect your dog from the cold and it works great for small and large dogs. The freezing cold temperatures constrict the bronchi of the lungs, so it is important to keep the chest warm.

Here’s one final word of advice for all pet parents with senior and arthritic dogs and cats. The cold weather is particularly hard on these animals. Their joints may be become a little more tender than usual and their mobility may decrease due to stiffness. Supervision when climbing stairs or walking on the ice outside is necessary to avoid slip and fall accidents. A ramp will make it easier to get in and out of the house. And, of course, a comfortable pet bed really goes a long way for these animals.

I hope you and your companion animals enjoy a wonderful and safe winter season.

P.S.  Sit, stay or run, jump and play ... your companion animal's ability to move freely is part of a happy and healthy life.  Learn more about our Agility Formula with Glucosamine and MSM, a multi-action joint support supplement containing scientifically tested ingredients that can help maintain joint and connective tissue health.

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