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Winter is a time of blustering winds, freezing temperatures, snow and slippery ice. These conditions can be fun (for some), but for your pet winter can pose serious health risks. At our veterinary clinic in Toronto, we see many incidences of frostbite that could’ve been prevented. But it’s easy to protect your pets against the elements this winter if you follow the guidelines below.

Keep your four-legged friends indoors House cats generally prefer to stay inside during the winter. But for most dogs, chasing after snowballs and running through the snow presents fun times with its family. While it may seem like your best-buddy relishes the cold, severe wind-chills can put dog health in jeopardy. Frostbite can occur on their nose, tails, ears and the pads of their feet. Dog winter coats help some, but it doesn’t take long for hypothermia to set in during a severe cold snap. Your pets should be inside with you and your family staying warm and dry. Protect your pet’s sensitive feet The pads on your dog or cat’s feet act like a built-in shoe, but it’s really more like a sandal. Would you wear sandals outside in the heart of winter? Not likely! Besides the risk of frostbite, snow can get trapped between the pads of their feet causing pain and discomfort. Their efforts to remove the snow can do additional damage by ripping out the fur between its toes. If your dog will tolerate them, dog booties protect their feet from the damaging effects of winter. If they won’t wear them, keep the length of their walks to a minimum. Avoid using road salts The salt we put down to melt ice on sidewalks and driveways can dry out your dog’s feet. That can cause painful cracks or fissures. When this happens it’s difficult for your dog to get around comfortably and may lead to bleeding. Specialty ointments are available at animal clinics across Toronto but your best defense is a combination of dog booties and not using salt where your dog walks. Keep your pet fed and well-hydrated Your pet needs just as much water in the winter as it does in the summertime. Make sure they have plastic bowls for their outdoor water dish so their tongue doesn’t stick to metal bowls. Check periodically to ensure their water isn’t frozen. They’ll need extra food to keep warm if they spend a lot of time outside, but be careful you don’t overfeed a mostly indoor pet. Just like humans, pets tend to become a bit lazy in the winter and overfeeding could make them overweight. When to see your veterinarian Proper pet care is just as important in the winter as any other time of year, if not more. It’s imperative to treat any injuries your pet experiences as soon as possible. Bellamy-Lawrence Animal Hospital is open 7 days a week to serve your pet’s needs. If you need to find an Ajax veterinary clinic or if you’re looking for a new veterinary clinic in Toronto, our clinic is conveniently located and is taking new pet patients. Give us a call at 416-289-2524 to book or visit our blog for answers to common pet concerns.

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