In many parts of the country, winter weather is in full swing. For those experiencing snowy or icy conditions, it’s important to keep in mind that the winter season poses some elevated health risks for our pets—including our pets’ paws. Before you take your pups outside for a stroll through the snow, check out a few of our winter paw-care tips:
Towel off. It’s helpful to bring a towel along on long walks to clean off irritated paws. After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet to remove ice, salt and chemicals—and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between her toes.
New shoes, please. Purchasing booties for your pet’s paws help minimize contact with painful salt crystals, poisonous anti-freeze and chemical ice-melting agents. They can also help prevent sand and salt from getting lodged in between bare toes, causing irritation.
Use petroleum jelly for paw protection. Massaging petroleum jelly into paw pads before you head outside helps guard them from salt and chemical agents. Also, moisturizing your pet’s paws after you clean them aids the healing process when they’re chapped.
It’s getting cold outside! As the mercury drops, it’s important to make sure our furry friends are staying warm this winter. Just as for humans,, too much exposure to winter’s dry, cold air and unpredictable wet weather like rain, sleet and snow can spell discomfort for our pets and result in chapped paws and itchy, flaky skin.
If the weather is too cold for you, it’s likely too cold for your pet as well. Help protect pets from cold weather dangers and keep them safe, happy and healthy this winter with these handy tips from our experts.
1.Rapid temperature changes caused by repeatedly coming out of the wet cold into the dry heat can often cause itchy and flaky skin. Make sure to keep your home humidified and towel dry your pet as soon as he comes inside—be sure to give feet and the space between toes extra attention!
2.During cold spells, bathing your pets too often can remove necessary oils from their skin and fur, and can increase the change of skin irritation. Bathe your pets as little as possible during cold snaps, and if your pup must be bathed, ask your vet to recommend a moisturizing shampoo or rinse.
3.Longer coats provide more warmth during the coldest months, so give your pets a good brushing! Regular brushing not only gets rid of dead hair, it stimulates blood circulation to improve skin’s overall condition.
4. Dress your pet in a sweater or coat when they head outdoors. This will help retain body heat and prevent skin from getting dry or inflamed during winter walks.
5. Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm during the winter. Feed your pet a little bit of extra food during the cold weather and make sure plenty of water is available to keep pets well-hydrated and prevent skin dryness.
6. Winter walks can turn dangerous quickly if chemicals from ice-melting agents are licked off legs and paws. Throughout wipe off your dog’s legs, paws and stomach when he first comes inside and be sure to clean up any spills from your vehicle. Consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.
7. Remember, pets should stay indoors as much as possible during winter monthsand never leave your pup alone in the car!
Halloween, the spookiest, kookiest day of the year, is finally here! It’s time to bust out the glitter and fake blood, and dress up your pets in the cutest, cleverest costumes you can find. But wait—is trick-or-treat apparel really a good idea for your furry friends?
The ASPCA suggests putting your pet in a costume only if you’re sure he will enjoy it. Some pets love the limelight: wearing a costume and posing for pictures is a blast! Others prefer to stick to their birthday suits for all occasions, and being dressed like a pumpkin for their pet parents’ amusement can cause unnecessary stress.
If you decide to have your pet wear a costume, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
Your pet’s Halloween garb should not constrict his movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Be sure to try on costumes in advance—and if your furry friend seems distressed, you’ll want to ditch the lion’s mane or superhero cape.
Examine your pet’s costume and make sure it doesn’t have any small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get caught on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.
IDs, please! Make sure your dog or cat has proper identification underneath that cute costume. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost during Halloween festivities, tags or a microchip can be lifesavers.
You’ve brought a new dog into your home—congratulations! Now comes your first dog-training challenge: house training.
House training is not an exact science—there’s no sure-fire formula or timetable that will work for every dog. The important thing is to make it a positive experience. Here are a few tips to help you through it.
Do: Supervise your dog. Limit the dog’s run of the house to the one or two rooms where you are able to see her at all times. Dogs usually show “pre-pottying” behavior such as sniffing, circling and walking with stiff back legs; all signs that you should get her to the potty area ASAP! As the training begins to take hold, you can slowly enlarge her territory.
Don’t: Yell at a dog for a mess she made earlier. If you catch her in the act, it’s okay to startle her by clapping or making a noise (hopefully this will stop her long enough for you to whisk her outside). But a dog will not learn anything by being scolded for a past accident, even one a few minutes old. Just clean it up and soldier on.
Do: Offer big praise when she gets it right. Whether your goal is for your dog to eliminate on pee pads indoors or to do it outside, you have to really throw a party for her when she succeeds. Lavish her with praise, affection and some yummy treats!
Don’t: Rub her face in it. In addition to this action making your dog fear you, she’s incapable of making the connection that it’s the act of soiling indoors you object to—to her, you just really hate pee and poop. If she thinks that the waste itself is what you dislike, she’ll only get sneakier about hiding it from you.
Do you have any fool-proof house training tips? Share them in the comments!
Guest blog by ASPCA President & CEO Matt Bershadker
Just because most disasters strike with little or no warning doesn’t mean we can’t effectively prepare for them. But while a lot of attention has been devoted to disaster planning for people, disaster planning for pets is all too often left out of the conversation, with tragic results. September may be National Preparedness Month, but the truth is we should always be preparing –with both ourselves and our pets in mind—so we can always be ready.
As experts in both disaster preparedness and response, the ASPCA is very aware of this peril. Following Hurricane Sandy, we assisted more than 30,000 pets in New York and New Jersey, distributing nearly 40 tons of pet supplies to impacted pet owners, and sheltering nearly 280 displaced pets. This summer, we released our first-ever ASPCA smartphone app, which includes disaster preparedness and pet survival tips, a tool to store and manage your pet’s vital information, as well as practical tips and a customizable kit for recovering lost pets.
We put a lot of effort into keeping pets safe, but the biggest role belongs to their owners. Yet, according to a national ASPCA poll, more than one-third of cat and dog owners don't have a disaster preparedness plan in place, and only one-quarter say their animals are micro-chipped. In the Northeast, nearly half of dog owners and cat owners say they don't know what they would do with their pets in an evacuation, while slightly more pet owners in the South – where hurricanes are more common – are aware.
This lack of preparedness can have dire consequences. During Hurricane Katrina, approximately 10,000 animals were evacuated, but less than half were reunited with their families, according to Dr. Dick Green, our senior director of disaster response.
These outcomes aren’t inevitable. Let’s work together to share and take advantage of these valuable suggestions from our veteran rescuers:
Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification
Microchip your pets and register the chip. It may be their ticket home if they become lost
Build a portable pet emergency kit with items such as medical records, water, pet food, medications and pet first aid supplies
Affix a pet rescue sticker to your windows (Get a free one here)
Have current photos of your pets on hand
Arrange a safe haven for your pets in the event of evacuation, and never leave them behind
Identify ahead of time where you’ll bring your pets -- whether it’s a relative’s house or a pet-friendly hotel -- because not all emergency facilities accept animals
Remember: any home unsafe for people is also unsafe for pets
Here’s a list of items pet owners should include in their pet preparedness kits:
Pet first-aid kit (ask your vet what to include)
3-7 days' worth of canned or dry food
Disposable litter trays (aluminum roasting pans work well)
Litter or paper toweling
Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
Disposable garbage bags
Pet feeding dishes
Extra collars or harnesses, as well as an extra leash
Photocopies of medical records – or you can store them on the ASPCA App
A waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires (make sure to regularly replace expired food and medicines in your kit)
At least a week’s worth of bottled water for you and your pet (store in a cool, dry place and replace every two months)
A traveling bag, crate or sturdy carrier, ideally one for each pet
A blanket (for scooping up a fearful pet)
Recent photos of your pets (in case you are separated and need to make "Lost" posters)
Especially for cats: A pillowcase as a crate alternative, and large bags for supplies, toys, and scoopable litter
Especially for dogs: Extra leash, toys and chew toys, a week's worth of cage liner
Even if conditions are safe enough to stay home, you may still need to calm pets scared by lightning and loud noises. Prepare a small, safe space in which they can be comfortable, consider closing curtains and shades, play classical music or white noise to muffle the sounds, and most importantly, keep them inside.
Like most humans, animals don’t respond well to chaos. With hurricane season not ending until November, it’s critical for pet owners to be the true “first responders”— knowing just what to do when their beloved companions need them most.
Tune in tonight at 7:00 P.M. ET for our Google+ Hangout with the ASPCA’s Dick Green and Deborah Press as well as representatives from FEMA, USDA, and the Joplin Humane Society. We’ll discuss the challenges of keeping pets safe during an emergency. The discussion will be moderated by ABC News meteorologist Ginger Zee, and includes an appearance by Joy, an ASPCA-rescued Sandy survivor.