Cleaning, cooking, and cold weather advice for pet owners:
• Ventilate while cleaning: Properly ventilate your home while completing your routine house cleaning. Inhaled fumes from furniture polish, oven cleaners and rug shampoos can be fatal to a bird's delicate respiratory system if the house is not properly ventilated. Opening windows is a good idea. An even better idea is to leave your bird at a neighbor's house until you have finished a thorough cleaning and the air has cleared. Because other nosey pets, cats and dogs included, will ingest toxic chemicals, you should always make sure household cleaners are stored in a secure place.
• Cook with care: Those convenient non-stick coatings on your pots and pans release fumes into the home that can be toxic to birds. If you cook and have a bird as a pet, then you may want to turn in your non-stick coated pots and pans for the more traditional glass and stainless steel cookware.
• Be careful in cold weather: Try rapping on the hood of your car before you sit in and turn the ignition. A warm automobile is a hotel for outdoor cats during the winter months. Every year thousands of cats, who take comfort in sleeping under the hood, are injured or killed when a driver returns to his car and starts the engine. A rap on the car hood before starting the engine will awaken a sleeping cat, giving it time to escape before you rev up and go.
• Give water, not ice: Pets who live outdoors during the winter must have fresh water to drink at all times. Water, however, can freeze in a matter of hours when temperatures go below freezing. Pet owners who cannot replenish their pet's dish with fresh water several times a day may need to use an electrically heated water dish. Check your local Petland for supplies.
• Provide proper shelter: Having a permanent fur coat does not make your pets safe from winter's harsh blows. Cats and dogs that live outdoors must have a shelter equipped with clean, dry bedding. The shelter should be just big enough for the pet to get in and turn around. Having a larger cat or dog house is not beneficial, as the animal cannot use its natural body heat to warm the shelter area. Even pet birds housed inside need to have their cages located in a place free of feather-chilling drafts.
• Dry those paws: The snow and salt that accumulates in your pet's paws from daily winter romps can result in irritation, cracking and pain. Paws need to be checked daily and routinely cleaned and dried. Your pet's coat should be dried off, too, as dampness and chilling can lead to illness.
• Veterinary services: Get acquainted with a veterinarian in your community and find out about their emergency treatment procedures in case you ever need to use them.
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