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When summer turns to fall and fall to winter, not only do the seasons change, but so do the needs of your beloved pets. As important as it was to guarantee pet safety in the summer heat, it is crucial to note that colder weather also brings health and wellness risks for pets. Dr. Mitsie Vargas, a Veterinarian with the American Veterinarian Medical Association (AVMA), provides seasonal pet tips that can improve the winter wellness of your pets.

1)      Be Mindful of new objects in the Home. Fall means back to school, which also means new items appear in the house. Treat pets like curious toddlers and place harmful objects out of reach.  This can also include indoor plants that are actually poisonous if eaten.

2)      Nutritional needs change. Talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s specific nutritional needs during the colder months. Outdoor pets, for example, may need to eat more than indoor pets in order to generate enough body heat to remain warm.

3)      Acknowledge your pet’s tolerance for Physical activity. As the weather becomes colder, and pets need more of their energy to remain warm, it is sometimes necessary to cut back on your pet’s physical activity.  Depending on the thickness of your pet’s coat, it is advised to cut their time outside short.

4)      Early Detection is Key. Take your pet to get their winter wellness exam early! Summer is a great opportunity for pets to be outdoors and with outdoor exploration comes exposure to a feeding ground for lots of bacteria and diseases. These diseases may not appear in pets right away, thus taking precaution at the start of the new season is advised.

Colder weather also means the fast-approaching holiday season.  Give the gift of safety to your pets. The American Veterinarian Medical Association has provided holiday tips to ensure a happy and safe holiday for your pet.

  1. Should I be mindful of the excess of Holiday food in my home? Yes. One of the main challenges that the holiday season brings is the excess of food available around your pet. Be sure to keep people food in places that cannot be accessed by your pets. Be upfront with your guests, and ensure they do the same.
  2. Can my pet enjoy the same holiday treats that I do? No. Pet owners are urged to keep human treats away from pets. Specifically treats that contain chocolate, xylitol, grapes/raisins, onions and other foods that are toxic to pets.
  3. Can winter decorations be hazardous to our pets?  Yes. The holidays bring lots of seasonal home decorations, such as candles, decorated trees, and potpourri. Pet owners are urged to make sure pets are not left alone in the decorated rooms as to avoid danger.
  4. Is tinsel specifically hazardous to cats?  Yes.  The shine of tinsel can easily attract the attention of a curious cat. There are serious medical consequences if the cat eats any of this tinsel. It is suggested, that cat owners leave tinsel off of the tree all together.
  5. Is it okay to place my holiday plants anywhere around the house? No. As many pet owners know, pets like to chew on anything in reach. Indoor holiday plants such as mistletoe, holly, and lilies are actually harmful to pets. These plants should be kept out of a pets’ reach.
  6. Do some pets get scared around house guests? Yes. The holidays tend to bring lots of family and friends to one’s house. Some pets get scared or excited around a large group of new faces, thus it is advised that they are placed in another room. This can also help with tip number 1, in that guests will not end up feeding the pets.

For more tips on how to protect your pet during the colder months, visit avma.org

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