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Does Your Pet Need a Winter Tune Up?

Now is the time to do a winter tune-up on your car in preparation for a long cold New England winter. But did you know that you can do a winter tune-up on your pet, too? Follow these 10 tips to winterize your pet.

  1. Dog and Cat in WinterCheck the Antifreeze — Make sure your car has adequate antifreeze for the winter and be aware that as little as 1 teaspoon of antifreeze can be lethal to dogs and cats. Pets are attracted by the sweet smell of antifreeze, but ingesting just a little can cause fatal kidney failure. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills in the garage or driveway and store it securely out of reach. If it's cold outside and you're worried about your car, worry too about outdoor pets. Make sure they have a warm place to seek shelter and make sure their water bowls don't freeze.

  2. Look under the Hood — Now is the time to try to get a good look inside your pet's mouth and take care of any dental problems. Look for tartar buildup, swollen, red gums, loose or broken teeth, and bad breath.

  3. Check the Tires — Take a look at your pet's feet which may soon be exposed to snow, ice and road salt. Sometimes winter allergies cause rashes between the toes or on the underside of the feet. Mats and burrs can be painful. Overly long nails can be hard to walk on and sometimes cat nails grow into their footpads and cause lameness.

  4. Wash and Wax the Exterior — Check your pet's exterior haircoat. Ticks and fleas can persist well into winter if you're not regularly treating your pet. Check for rashes and lumps. Get a good grooming for your pet while the weather's good.

  5. Calculate your Fuel Efficiency — No one wants to run out of gas in the middle of a snowstorm. Fuel for your pet is the food you feed. Many pets, like many of us, consume too much fuel and gain weight. If your pet is fuel efficient, you should be able to feel your pet's ribs and see a tucked-up waistline. Calculate your pet's calories.
  1. Check the Exhaust System — Notice if your pet has diarrhea or a change in the color, consistency, or frequency of a bowel movement. Internal parasites picked up over the fall can parasitize your pet and cause intestinal problems.

  2. Clean the Headlights — Your pet's eyes should be clean and clear. Excessive discharge, redness, hazy color, or squinting can indicate ocular problems.

  3. Check the Oil — Just as oil lubricates your engine, joint fluid lubricates joint connections between bones. If your pet is walking stiffly or limping, or takes a long time to get up or lie down, arthritis may be a problem. Glucosamine can be helpful to restore joint function.

  4. Check the Battery — The battery provides electricity to your car; your pet's heartbeat is an electrical conduction. Pets with heart problems may be lethargic, coughing, or breathe loudly and heavily.

  5. Sound the Horn Every Morn — A horn is a warning and you want to make sure your's works. If you beep the horn before starting up your car, any critters that might have snuggled up on your warm engine block overnight will have sufficient warning to escape injury.

If you think your pet is not comfortably "winterized," now is the time for a checkup and a tune-up at Linwood Animal Hospital. Please call for an appointment and we'll help you keep your pet running smoothly, well into old age, and long after warranties have expired!