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'Ruff' Winter: ASPCA Tips For Keeping Your Pet Safe

By Susan Richard

NEW YORK(1010 WINS) As we wait to hear what the Groundhog has to say, the calendar informs us that there's still more than two months left to winter.  We're back to cold temps this week, and if the forecast so far this season is any indicator (a 'bomb cyclone', a foot of snow in spots, 50 mph wind gusts, RealFeel temps below zero), it would serve us well to review tips from the experts on ensuring the well being of our four-legged family members in severe weather.

1010 WINS Anchor (and animal lover) Susan Richard spoke with Veterinarian Dr. Erin Wilson, the Medial Director for the ASPCA's Adoption Center located at 424 E 92nd St in Manhattan.  Check out what Dr. Wilson had to say in Susan's latest episode of All For Animals TV :

All For Animals TV #50 Winter Pet Safety Tips With The ASPCA by allforanimalstv on YouTube

Here are some important tips courtesy of the ASPCA.  Always keep the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline available: (888) 426-4435 and call immediately if  your pet ingests antifreeze or any other household chemical.

(Photo Credit: Instagram @iheartpgracie)

Safety Tips for Dogs:

  • Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. Dogs can lose their scent in the snow and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure your dog always wears an ID tag.
  • If your large dog spends most of his time outside, take proper precautions during the colder months. Make sure your dog has an insulated and waterproof dog house and access to fresh water. Never leave your dog outside during a snowstorm or inclement weather including sleet, ice, snow, wind, or extreme cold.
  • Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. If your dog is long-haired, simply trim him to minimize the clinging ice balls, salt crystals and de-icing chemicals that can dry his skin, and don't neglect the hair between his toes.
  • Bathe your pets as little as possible during cold spells.Washing too often can remove essential oils and increase the chance of developing dry, flaky skin. If your pooch must be bathed, ask your vet to recommend a moisturizing shampoo and/or rinse.
  • Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm in wintertime. Feeding your pet a little bit more during the cold weather months can provide much-needed calories, and making sure she has plenty of water to drink will help keep her well-hydrated and her skin less dry.
  • Protect your dog's paws.  Salt and deicing chemicals can be extremely painful when they come in contact with your dog's paws.  Use booties or vaseline directly on the paw pads and make sure to wipe your dog's paws when you get back indoors.  Wipe their fur around the belly area as well.
    KristaMenzel-DSC_4827 (DO NOT RESUSE: permission granted to Susan Richard ONLY)
    (Photo Credit: Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals/Krista Menzel)

    Safety Tips For Cats:

    • Bang loudly on the hood of your car before starting the engine. Outdoor, stray and feral cats sometimes sleep under car hoods to stay warm, but the fan belt can injure or kill a cat when the motor starts. Banging on the hood can help avoid catastrophe and give the cat a chance to escape.
    • Keep housecats indoors. Period. If your cat is an indoor/outdoor pet, keep them indoors with adequate heat until the mercury rises.
    • Keep cats (and dogs too!) away from dangerous heat sources.  Cats will gravitate toward anything warm, including a fireplace, candles, burners and radiators.  This can result in serious injuries that can even be fatal.  The ASPCA's Dr. Erin Wilson says because cats are like toddlers, pet parents need to be proactive, anticipate what your cat might get into, and take the necessary precautions to prevent a problem.
    • Help Community Cats in your neighborhood:  There are ways to help keep stray and feral ("community") cats safe from the elements.  The NYC Feral Cat Initiative, a program of the Mayor's Alliance For NYC's Animals, offers free workshops in managing and caring for community cat colonies around the five boroughs including TNR (trap-neuter-return), rescuing and raising (bottle feeding) kittens and setting up outdoor shelters for feral cats.  Get more info HERE.  Learn how to make an outdoor shelter for cats from a cat cooler in the video below from The NYC Feral Cat Initiative's Mike Phillips and sign up for a free workshop on January 16th HERE.
    How to Make a Feral Cat Shelter from a Cooler…Fast and Easy! by Mayors Alliance for NYC's Animals on YouTube

    For more information, check out the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center's full list of cold weather safety tips, and download the APCC App to stay up-to-date on important information concerning your pets' wellness. Also, if you see an animal outdoors and in need of assistance in cold temperatures, please contact your local shelter or law enforcement agency.


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