Winter weather is either on its way or it is already here depending on where you live. With winter comes snow and freezing temperatures, so it’s time to think about how to keep your dog or cat safe in winter. While the weather outside is frightful, these winter pet tips can keep your precious pets snug, safe, and warm.
When is it time to bring your pets inside?
Unless your pet is a breed that is heavily coated and accustomed to living in cold environments, when the temperature falls below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, it is time to provide shelter for them. These temperatures can bring frostbite and hypothermia. If possible, bring them inside with you. Just remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pet.
What if I cannot bring my pet inside?
If not in your home, then make a warm place for them in your garage or provide them with a draft-free shelter. The floor of the shelter should be raised from the ground. Cover the floor of the dog house with straw or provide bedding such as self warming pet pads and other insulating material. The door should be covered with plastic or other wind-blocking, water-proof material. Check their water frequently and feed them more than normal, as they will need fuel to keep themselves warm.
Keeping Your Pet Warm: Many people misunderstand the purpose of an animal’s coat of fur. Although it may be plush and beautiful, it is not always the perfect insulator, and if your pet has short hair or is hairless, they are even more vulnerable to the cold. To help prepare your pet for warmth, start with a dry, draft-free shelter with plenty of food and water.
Pet Clothes: Good or Bad Idea: The real answer is: It depends. There is nothing wrong with dressing your dog for the season, as long as it does not inhibit breathing or movement. Cute clothes for cats are usually not a good idea. They are more stubborn than dogs and could actually do more harm than good. In cold weather, keep cats (even outdoor ones) inside with a warm blanket and they should be fine.
Keep the Outdoor Adventurers Inside: If you have a dog that spends most of its time romping in your backyard or a kitty that whiles away the day in a sunny patch on the front porch, winter’s arrival may be a rude awakening. Pets are at risk of getting frostbite or hypothermia, just like humans. If your pet has been playing in the snow, protect their paws from salt or antifreeze spills with booties or petroleum jelly before they go out. It is very important to clean their paws, ears and coat when returning inside.
Tis the Season for Poisons: Coolant and/or anti-freeze can spill in the parking lot, garage, or driveway and are extremely poisonous to pets. Unfortunately, dogs love the smell and taste. So, it is important to keep an eye on them when around these areas. Wipe paws, legs, and stomach when returning from the rain, sleet, or ice. If your dog licks rock salt from the street, call your veterinarian immediately.
Save a Cat: Cats love to be warm and cozy, especially in the winter. Since they don’t know any better, what better place than an engine compartment? This unfortunate accident causes numerous cat deaths each year. Save a life this year by banging loudly on your hood. This will give any sleeping cats a chance to vacate their hideout before turning on the motor.
Report a Crime
What to do if you see a dog or cat left outside in extremely cold temperatures. We encourage you to contact local law enforcement agencies, because leaving pets outside in cold temperatures is a crime, especially without shelter. Their owners are at risk of facing criminal charges. One of the most common forms of animal cruelty is leaving animals outside in in winter weather and these cases are investigated more by police and animal control agencies than any other form of animal abuse. Do your part and gently remind the owner or report the abuse to local authorities.
It doesn’t take much to keep your dog or cat safe in winter when things get frosty. Just like us, our feline and canine friends need shelter, warmth, food, and care. When winter’s chill sends you scurrying indoors, don’t forget your furry four-footed pals and their simple needs this season.