Hello friends, it’s Mayor Max! As we move into the winter months, the weather gets chilly here in Idyllwild, tucked away up in the mountains as we are. Even I and my two deputy mayors, Mitzi and Mikey, sometimes get cold, despite our thick Golden Retriever coats! My pals at Idyllwild Animal Rescue Friends and I know a thing or two about staying safe and warm in the mountains during the winter, and we’ve come up with these tips to help you keep your pets cozy and out of danger:
■ Limit your dog’s time outdoors. Even dogs with the heaviest of coats can be subject to frostbite as their ears, nose, and feet are exposed to the elements with little or no protection.
Always check your dog’s paws carefully after being in the snow or ice and rinse and dry your pet’s feet after any snow event.
■ Puppies, older dogs, and dogs with very short (or no) hair may need to wear a sweater or coat when the temperature dips. Even dogs perceived to be very tough, such as pit bulls, will still get cold very easily.
■ Many dogs enjoy playing in the snow, but remember that ice, snow, salt, and toxic chemicals like antifreeze and deicers can build up on your dog’s feet. If he licks them, he could swallow the poisons. Always rinse and dry your pet’s feet after any snow event.
■ Pet guardians hopefully are educated to the dangers of pets in a hot car, but many don’t stop to think about how cold a car can get. Even if the cold car is not a direct threat to the dog’s health, it could be very uncomfortable. Whenever possible, leave your pooch at home where it’s warm.
■ Pet-proof your home. Space heaters are a burn danger, as are heated dog beds. Space heaters can be tipped over and possibly start a fire, and heated dog beds can burn your dog’s skin. Closely monitor the use of these beds, and regularly check to see that they are functioning properly and safely.
■ Veterinarians will tell you that if dogs are exposed to wet, cold weather for too long, their respiratory tract can become inflamed, which may lead to pneumonia. This is especially true for older and very young dogs, as well as any whose immune systems may be compromised.
■ Rain puddles can pose a risk to dogs that stop to get a drink. According to veterinarians, leptospirosis and giardia are two infectious agents that can potentially result when dogs consume diseased water found in puddles. If your dog can get to puddles easily, you might want to consider vaccinating your pet against leptospirosis.
As tempting as it might be, don’t let your pups design their own winter clothing like Mayor Mitzi tried to do. See the article on page 62 about choosing the proper winter clothing for your dog (or cat).
■ Bring your dog indoors during wet, cold weather. If for some reason your pet cannot be indoors, provide a dry, warm retreat. Make certain water cannot seep through the floor and provide a reliable roof. Your pet should be dry and warm at all times.
■ Lightning and thunder: If you know your dog reacts poorly during a storm, prepare him with natural or prescribed medications (check with your vet). Do NOT coddle him during the event, as this only reinforces fear-based behavior. Instead, stay by his side and soothe him with calming speech. Thundershirts® (made by Thunderworks ) worked very well for my late “rescue sister,” Pookie, who hated storms. Keeping the lights on during a lightning storm can help, too. Be absolutely certain that your pet is wearing ID (use a marker to put your phone number on his collar) and is micro-chipped. If your pet gets frightened and escapes from your home, help ensure his safe return by providing rescuers your contact information.
Mayor Max likes to check out his favorite shops in Idywilld, like Mountain Paws. If you’re looking for food, treats or supplies, stop by!
■ If you’re traveling in bad weather, make sure your dogs are secured in your car, in case you make an abrupt stop or get into an accident. You’ll find a perfect seat belt/harness system to work with any size dog. If your dogs are smaller, you may want to put into crates while driving.
Here’s to a winter that finds both you and your pets snug as a bug in a rug, through all kinds of frosty weather!
Connect with Mayor Max atwww.facebook.com/mayor.max.3/