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Guest Post: A Warm Winter Is Not Necessarily A Good Thing For Pets

I have to admit, I’ve been rather selfish in wanting another warm winter like we had last year in northeast Ohio. I run and I can’t bear to use my treadmill so a milder winter means more time outside for me; however, the milder weather isn’t necessarily good for pets as Dr Riggs points out below.

Well it looks like the winter months are coming.  Usually that means snow ice and slush… and slush… and slush (I live in Central Ohio). We need to buy cute coats and bundle our dogs up when they go outside and make sure their feet are clean of salt and ice as they come into the warmth of the house. 

That was the way it use to be … but last year was not like that at all. The decade of 2000-2009 was the hottest decade on record, with eight of the hottest ten years having occurred since 2000. Hmmm what is in store for this winter?? 

I, and everyone else, have written blogs and articles about how to protect your animals of cold winter threats and you can reread all of those great blogs.  Being a sound believer of global warming, and whatever the precipitating cause may be, I am betting on another mild winter again in central Ohio.  We will need to see if I am right or not.

So does the warmer weather adversely really affect my pet?  Yes it does.

Many animals and birds, have historically traveled to warmer climates, for breeding purposes. Many of the migratory routes and habitats have been devastated forcing many of them to not migrate at all. So they stay where they are.  Canada Geese are everywhere all year long now.  Some people call them “flying rats” because of their propensity to carry and spread diseases. Please don’t let your dog eat goose poop! They carry giardia, cryptosporidium and goodness knows what else. All that can make your pet very sick.

There also has been an influx of foxes and coyotes coming further north as the temperatures warm.  Coyotes love cats, but not in a good way.  It has been said that cats are the preferred food of coyotes. That is just another reason to keep your cats inside. Something to think about is some hibernating animals (Lions, tigers maybe not) such as bears have been observed to wake up earlier or to stop hibernating all together. So they will need to eat when awake and if their normal food sources are not there and cats and dogs could look appetizing to them.

Warmer temperatures also mean more bugs.  We have seen ticks all year long in our area. We even have a new resident this year in the Deer Tick.  This is the tick that carries Lymes disease, which is a serious threat to pets and humans alike. What about those discussing fleas?  Fleas have been a bumper crop this year, all year long.  Fleas can spread diseases like tapeworms and can cause allergies in many pets. I am recommending flea and tick medications be given year long this year.

Numerous studies have shown an increase of heartworm disease in all areas of the country, due to the increase in the duration of the mosquito season.  In order for mosquitoes to be able to carry heartworm disease, it needs to be 50 degrees or warmer for 15-20 days consecutively. Increased temperatures are happening in more places then ever in the winter months so the use of heartworm preventatives for the majority of the year is now warranted in many areas.

So if we have the cold harsh weather of old, we won’t need to pay attention to this blog, but if it is warm like last year… beware!

Related Posts:
November is Winter Dangers Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
Guest Post: Winter Dangers With Dr Patrick Mahaney
Guest Post: A Warm Winter Is Not Necessarily A Good Thing For Pets
Veterinary View: An Increase in “Blocked Cats” During Autumn?

Other posts by Dr Riggs

Dr_RiggsDr. Rex Riggs grew up in Wadsworth, Ohio, near Akron. Dr Riggs is co-owner of Best Friends Veterinary Hospital in Powell, Ohio. He is also on the board of the North Central Region of Canine Companions of Independence, a board member of The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Society and Small Animal Practitioner Advancement Board at The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Riggs lives in Lewis Center, OH with his wife Nancy, their dogs Maggie and Ossa, and cat Franklin. Outside of work, Dr. Riggs is an avid golfer and cyclist, and enjoys travel and photography.

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