NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

January 11, 2013

Paw Prints: Keep pets safe during chilly weather

(Continued)

Cats can be affected by hypothermia and frostbite, too. Most outdoor cats can acclimate to winter weather, but they need shelter from the elements. Elderly, thin or debilitated house cats need special consideration if taken outdoors. Certain breeds, such as the rex or sphynx, have virtually no coats, and can chill quickly. Sweaters are available for these kitties.

When the mercury rises to balmy spring-like temperatures in winter, it’s not all roses. Parasites become more active during milder weather. They don’t check the calendar first.

Ticks are a big problem in our neck of the woods. Deer ticks have a two-year life cycle. They are in frantic search of a blood meal in autumn. The majority are still hungrily hunting when winter falls on us. They hunker down in freezing weather, seeking shelter under mulch, fallen leaves and shrubs.

On mild days, ticks become active again and eagerly search for their blood meal. These mild days often coincide with desirable days to romp with Fido. A single tick bite can transmit both Lyme disease and anaplasmosis to your dog. Protect Fido and use tick prevention during winter months, too.

Fleas are another problem because they also survive all year. Since it’s never winter inside your home, a few fleas that hitchhike their way indoors will hang around for optimal conditions to explode into an infestation. They can also live outdoors in wild animal nests, or in sheltered areas such as under your deck or shed. Like ticks, fleas don’t check the calendar. When Mother Nature surprises us with a taste of spring in winter, you’ll want to know your precious Fido and Fluffy are protected with flea prevention.

If the mild weather lasts long enough, even heartworm disease can be a risk. It’s best to play it safe and protect your pets with year-round heartworm protection.

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