I don't know about you, but Autumn has a way of creeping up on me. I've been so used to the warm weather and the ample daylight, I'm always a little surprised that morning when I go out to walk the dogs and I not only need a jacket, but I also need a flashlight! It's a sure sign that fall is coming, and winter is right around the corner. And for folks like us here in the Pacfic Northwest, that means that COLD weather can come fast and furious, and a pet parent needs to be prepared.
Our CEO, Tom Arnold, wrote a great article about Autumn Pet Safety recently on LinkedIn, and we have several articles on cold weather safety and protecting your pet as the leaves turn. But I've decided to pick the top four things that seem to "sneak" up on me as the weather turns fierce:
Personally, I never would have thought about the kitty-in-the-car tip until a few years ago when I heard about a neighbor who was very lucky to hear a small "mewing" just before she turned the key to power up. Apparently, it's a pretty common thing, and it only takes being mindful and beeping the horn a few times to potentially save a life. Don't want to wake the neighbors with a horn beep? Knocking a few times on the hood will also do the trick -- you just want to get the cat's attention so they move along and get out of harm's way. (Here are some other nifty ways to keep outdoor cats safe from Catser.)
The anti-freeze one is super scary because it's too easy to make this mistake. You're in your garage with your pup, winterizing your car, you spill a little anti-freeze on the garage floor and mean to clean it up, but before you do, Fido has already taken a few licks because it smells sweet and yummy to him. I didn't realize how dangerous it was until we started working with The Preventive Vet, Dr. Jason Nicholas, and he shared this article on the dangers of antifreeze with us. Eek! Please, take the time to be extra careful with this toxic stuff.
And as far as whipping out those special brushes that remove a dog's undercoat to "reduce shedding" -- don't use them in winter. Your pup needs that undercoat during the colder weather to keep them warm. Yes, I know, some of us have shed-monsters in the house (I'm looking at YOU, Ullr), but that's really more of a warm-weather thing, and the bi-weekly "let's-get-as-much-hair-out-as-possible" brush-fests need to tone down in fall. Use a regular, wide combed brush to keep their fur mat and tangle free, but shaving and removing undercoats should be avoided as summer ends and fall begins.
Speaking of keeping warm, we have a few tootsie-warmers that our Boston Terror loves (okay, she tolerates -- but she does seem to appreciate them when the weather turns icy!) We use Muttluks (seen in the picture) for those cold weather hikes. Think booties for dogs are silly? Well, maybe, but I've heard enough stories about paw frostbite and have seen my Boston highstep enough times on the cold ground to think "better safe than sorry" when it comes to pup-footwear. Don't believe frostbite can happen to dogs? Check out this article from PetMD . This is the way I look at it. Sure, she's got calluses on her paws, which is fine for walking on the grass, dirt and sidewalk that would be pretty hard on my tender, relatively uncallused feet -- but she's still essentially barefoot and calluses don't keep out COLD. So when a long walk in the cold is on the forecast, Penny gets the boots -- and, of course, a cute sweater -- cuz she's not a big fluffy furball like Ullr.
One more saftey tip that always needs to be mentioned -- make sure your pets have current ID tags on them at ALL times. Of course, I believe that should be a PetHub tag, because as a responsible pet parent, I believe that only the best, most comprehensive pet recovery solution is what belongs on a member of the family. Regardless of what ID tag and recovery system you choose, make sure it is up-to-date and always on.
PetHub's Director of Pawsomeness (ahem, Marketing)