Winterizing Your Home
Guest Writer: Brooke Faulkner
Here’s the thing about winter: it’s always on its way. When a cold-front blasts through town in the middle of summer, that’s winter’s fingertips. When you smell that early autumn crispness in the air, that’s winter’s breath. It’s time to start thinking of winterizing your home for happy paws.
Not only can winter be hard on us and our homes, it can be hard on our pets too.
Your dog’s favorite park suddenly becomes a snowscape and your cat’s secret hideout becomes little more than a frozen ice bucket. Luckily, making winter manageable for our pets is simple: it all comes down to preparation. Let’s look at a few things we can do to lay the groundwork for a fun and safe winter season.
Indoors: Keep up with Maintenance
According to the Humane Society, pets should really be kept indoors during the frigid winter months. That is to say, if the temps drop
below 30 degrees Fahrenheit they should sleep inside and still be taken out for regular exercise. We don’t want our pets to go stir-crazy, but we do want to ensure they don’t fall victim to hypothermia, frostbite, or any other cold-related maladies. With the weather just beginning to turn cold, it’s time to start preparing our homes and pets for winter.
If you’re planning on keeping your pet inside during the day, it’s important to make sure that your heating system is functioning properly. You don’t want to come home from work one day to find your sweet little dog or cat freezing cold because the heater broke while you were away.
On that note, a quick public safety announcement: never leave space heaters on while you’re out of the house. You could come home to a pile of ashes.
The best time to get routine maintenance done on your home heating system – whether you have a furnace, baseboard heaters, or a wood stove – is before the temperature drops. In autumn, have your maintenance person stop by and make sure everything is in working order. That way, if there is something that needs to be fixed, you won’t have to go days without heat in below-freezing temps. Your pet will thank you. And so will your not-frozen-toes.
Fall is also the time to ensure that chimney flues and air ducts are clean and ready to do their job all winter long. While most wood stove owners are aware that their chimneys need regular cleaning, many people with central heating don’t realize that they need to clean their air ducts. If there’s one thing that every owner of furry a pet will tell you, it’s that pet hair gets everywhere. Nothing is sacred. Air ducts are no exception. Making sure the heating system is clear of dust and pet hair will help ensure it runs efficiently throughout the winter.
Outdoors: Get the Right Supplies
Most indoor/outdoor animals will leap at the chance to go outside when they’ve been cooped up all winter. Make sure that they’re ready for the outdoors and that the outdoors – or at least the outside of your house – is ready for them.
Before winter hits, you’ll want to stock up on a few supplies that will make the day of the first snowfall much easier. Get a shovel for clearing walkways, make sure you have sturdy boots, and buy enough deicer to make the sidewalk safe for your family and neighbors.
While there are hundreds of deicers out there, pet owners have come to recognize that not every deicer is created equal, and some are harmful to animals. On Brandstar’s “Designing Spaces,” winterizing expert Emily Arthurs recommends getting ice melt products that are salt and chloride free. Deicers that contain salt and chlorides are not only chemically harmful for animals, they are also often jagged and can get stuck in the tender pads of a pup’s paws. Even if you don’t plan on taking your pet outside, using a pet-friendly deicer is kind for all the neighborhood animals.
Dogs rely heavily on their sense of smell to find their way around, and in the snow and ice it’s much easier for a dog to lose the scent of home and get lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season. So be sure to keep your pup within eyesight or leashed during your brisk winter walks. It’s also a good idea to make sure he’s wearing his ID tags whenever he goes outside.
Garage: Be Vigilant and Pet-Safe
Cat owners know how much kitties love to curl up in a warm nook and sleep the day away. It’s an endearing feline quality. But if the closest
warm nook is on the engine of a car, the cat can find herself in a dangerous situation. If your cat has easy access to the garage, always look under the hood before you start the car up in the morning.
Another animal hazard to consider when winterizing your home is antifreeze. As many as 90,000 animals are poisoned by antifreeze every year. The main ingredient in antifreeze, ethylene glycol, is odorless, toxic, and has a sweet flavor. A dangerous combination. There are pet-safe antifreezes available that have a bittering agent added to deter consumption. If a bottle of antifreeze gets knocked over or leaks out of your car, pet-friendly antifreeze could save your pet’s life.
The best way to get through the winter season with pets is to have fun with it.
If your cat is going to stay indoors all winter, build her a window perch. If your dog has never seen snow before, record his first tromp in the powder. Once you’ve done all the home preparation and winterizing to ensure your pets have a safe season, there’s nothing left but fun to be had!
Winterizing Your Home for Happy Paws
Guest Blogger: Brooke Faulkner is a freelance writer and momma in Portland, OR. She is a lover of words, furry animals, and furry words.
Another article by Brooke: Hot Vehicle Good Samaritan Laws : Free That Pup?
A QUESTION FOR YOU: Can you think of anything else to consider while winterizing your home for you and your pets’ safety and warmth?
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