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Don't Be Clueless: Watch for Unusual
Pet Problems That Occur In Winter, Year-Round

Some pet dangers are obvious. Some take a bit of thought to anticipate but can still represent a threat.
With a little luck most pet owners will avoid serious problems with their pet’s health. Old pets can be an exception, as can pets that spend a lot of time outdoors and are more likely to confront problems. Birds can be prone to some unusual and very specific ailments. But with good nutrition, common sense and a little luck, most of us can expect years of life with our pets, generally free from serious issues.

Other dangers that our pets are likely to face can be handled by most caring pet owners who are aware of parasites and other threats. What can get overlooked, however, are uncommon issues that may be a problem, if not a matter of life or death.

This time of year is a good example. Parts of the country can get extremely cold, so cold that even animals that are normally comfortable in winter may be in serious danger.

But if you pay attention, there are plenty of caution signs about leaving dogs or cats outside in sub-zero weather, or even leaving them out in freezing temperatures combined with rain or wind. But other hazards that are easy to overlook involve problems that come about because you are being responsible. These are potential troubles for a pet that’s use to some exercise or fresh air that’s suddenly trapped indoors. These issues involved things like dry skin or lack of exercise. They aren’t likely to be major health issues, but they can affect quality of life.

These types of issues range from weight gain to skin rashes, so it’s difficult to generalize, especially with different animals and different species. Just be aware that extended periods of harsh winter weather may require some awareness on your part.

A good rule of thumb is that if something is bothering you, or simply making you uncomfortable, it also might be troubling your pet. They just can’t tell you about it.

Consider dry indoor air that often occurs in winter because of the drying effect of your furnace. If you’ve been thinking of a humidifier and also have a bird, that humidifier might be a good idea. Birds can be especially susceptible to seasonal changes in air quality, although they aren’t the only one. If a humidifier is more expensive than you can afford, consider simply leaving a few bowls of water out and let evaporation take care of the rest.

Other issues include everything from placing a space header too near a birdcage to overlooking the fact that your hearty outdoor dog can’t get to water that has frozen. None of these are apt to be fatal, but they can lead to problems, even lowered quality of life.

And because they’re so unusual, these issues are easy to overlook. We’ve all seen clueless pet owners that seem oblivious to obvious distress in their pet—the fit runner who doesn’t realize the hot summer day is much harder on his furry dog than on him, the bird owner who’s bird dies because of a drafty window—and so on. You get the idea: don’t be the clueless guy or gal!