The excitement of the holidays is upon us, and what better way to enjoy the season than spending quality time with family, friends, and four-legged friends? How can Florida pet owners ensure dogs, cats, and other pets are well-cared for and protected during the hustle and bustle of the season? Here are five winter and holiday safety tips for area pet owners.
- Get someone to check on pets – Long periods of alone time could cause your pup to act out, with loud barking or chewing on or getting into something they are not supposed to. A mid-day walk can improve your dog’s health, mood and behavior. For longer trips away, home pet sitters allow furry friends to enjoy their homes —continuing daily routines, playing with familiar toys, eating favorite meals and sleeping in their own beds—avoiding the stress of being transported to strange places. There is also less risk of exposure to potential diseases from unfamiliar pets.
- Leash up – Winter is the leading season for pets to go missing. To keep your pets from getting lost, leave them on a leash at all times and make sure collars and tags have updated contact information.
- When it comes to errands, leave pets at home – Don’t underestimate that cars can still get hot, so it’s not a good idea to leave your dog in a running car. Play it safe. Leave pets at home.
- Keep holiday decorations and treats out of reach – This includes tinsel, ribbon, chocolate, candy, plants, presents, seasonal decorations, and the trash. Even small amounts of turkey and turkey skin and some table scraps can cause pancreatitis, which can be life-threatening to pets, according to the American Veterinary Association, and bones can splinter and be harmful.
- Don’t forget grooming no matter how busy you get – Dogs, even those with short hair, need regular grooming to prevent coats from getting matted, which can be uncomfortable, even painful, difficult to correct (sometimes necessitating shaving), and can mask underlying health issues.
- Brush Your Pup’s Coat – No matter the breed, brushing daily (or at least a few times a week) reduces shedding, prevents matting, removes dead fur/hair, stimulates growth, and brings natural oils to the surface.
- Brush Their Teeth – Reduce plaque, tartar, and bacteria. Brush your dog’s teeth three times a week, up to twice daily, with a dog toothbrush and paste.
- Clean Ears – Complete at least monthly or more often for dogs with longer ears. Wet a cotton ball with a pet ear-cleaning solution and clean the outside, gradually working towards the inner area.
- Trim Nails – In winter, a dog’s nails may wear down less and become more brittle. Nails that are too long can cause joint pain or medical issues. Trim to ensure they don’t touch the ground when your dog is standing still.
- Inspect Nose and Paws – These can become dry and benefit from pet balm.
- Work with a Professional Groomer – They can advise on the best length and style for your dog’s coat based on breed and other factors and advise on conditioning dry skin to help maintain your pet’s coat and health between appointments.
Wishing you, your family and your pets the happiest and healthiest of holiday seasons!
Tara Sobek is the owner of Woofie’s West Orlando premium mobile pet care services, serving Killarney, Kissimmee, Oakland, Ocoee, Orlando, Windermere, and Winter Garden. She and other Woofie’s West Orlando staff members are CPR-trained and passionate about caring for animals. www.woofies.com/west-orlando.