Pets are often considered members of the family, so it’s important to keep them as safe as you would anyone else in the home when the cold weather strikes. Michigan is notorious for having temperatures fall below zero in the winter time, so be sure you have the tips below in mind this season to keep your pets happy and healthy.

Schedule a wellness exam

Before the weather gets too bitterly cold, be sure your pet has had their annual preventative care, or wellness, exam by a veterinarian. In addition to providing a checkup for general health, the vet will be able to tell if your pet can deal with cold weather or if you’ll need to take precautions for symptoms such as arthritis or sensitivities to the paw caused by snow or salt.

Have your furnace inspected and keep an eye on open flames

We previously outlined the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO2), a colorless and odorless gas, and it’s just as much of a threat to pets as it is to humans. Since your cat, dog or other pet is likely looking for the warmest spot in the home, there’s a good chance they’ll cozy up near the furnace, putting them at greater risk of a potential poisoning.

If you use a fireplace or space heater, keep close watch to make sure no part of your pets body comes in contact with heating coils or flames. Pets can easily be burned or nock over a heating unit which can lead to fire.

Be aware of your pet’s age

Cold weather can be especially difficult for senior and very young pets such as puppies and kittens. These pets may need help with mobility, especially when there is dense snow on the ground, and shouldn’t be left alone or unwatched when outside. Talk with your vet about ways to protect your pet, such as booties for feet or sweaters for short-haired animals, and be patient if your pet shows signs of slowing due to aches and pains caused by the cold.

Don’t leave pets outside for a prolonged period of time

As the adage goes, if it’s too cold for you to be outside, it’s likely too cold for your pets. While animals do have protective layers of fur, they can still be susceptible to hypothermia or even freezing to death in extreme cold, which is why they should never be left outside to sleep overnight.

Keep your pets cozy and warm inside with you when the weather starts getting brutally cold and assure you have extra food on-hand in case roads are closed.

These are just a few ways to keep your pet safe during the cold winter season. Check out our other Your Neighborhood blogs for more great tips.

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