The next 24 hours are looking to be absolutely frigid with temperatures coming close to zero and wind chills in the negative digits.
While we find ways to keep our homes and families warm during this cold spell, we cannot forget out pets either. Especially since they need to go outside to go to the bathroom. Below are some ways you can help your pets stay warm and protect them from hurting themselves in the cold.
- Although some pets are conditioned to cold weather, veterinary experts agree that you should bring outdoor pets indoors if the temperature drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Puppies, kittens, and short-haired pets should come inside anytime the temperature goes below 40 degrees. They should also be protected when they go outdoors. Consider getting your pet a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck. They should be covered from the base of the tail to the belly. If your puppy is sensitive to the cold consider using indoor training pads. If your dog is sensitive due to age, illness or breed type, take your pet outdoors only to relieve himself. If it’s too cold outside for you, it probably is too cold for the pet to stay out as well.
- For pets with long hair, proper grooming is essential to help them maintain a layer of warming air within their coat. Pets who are heavily matted cannot keep themselves as warm.
- If your pet must stay outdoors, be sure to provide adequate shelter for your pet. An acceptable house will have three enclosed sides, elevated off the ground, and contain generous amounts of bedding such as straw or hay.
- In cold weather, bigger is not always better. A house just big enough for your pet will warm up faster and retain heat better than something that is too big.
- Animals need access to fresh water. Use heated water bowls so that their water does not freeze, and replenish them frequently. Lack of enough water can cause dehydration which can lead to kidney failure.
- Always wipe the paws of your pets if they have been exposed to areas with ice melts. This can cause blistering on their paws and contains chemicals which are dangerous for pets to ingest. Keep an eye out for limping, excessive licking of their feet and redness to the skin areas between pads.
- Cats should be kept inside in extreme cold. Also, feral cats love to warm up underneath car hoods. If your car is kept outdoors, or if cats have access to your garage, be sure to pound on the hood of the car prior to starting it. Many cats are killed or severely injured by fan belts and moving engine parts.
- Animals suffer from frostbite and hypothermia just like humans. Consider keeping dogs on a leash when they go outside and make sure they are wearing ID tags. Curious dogs off leash may explore frozen retention ponds, lakes or streams, and fall through the ice into frigid water.
- Pets should NEVER be left alone in vehicles. Leaving a pet in a vehicle is always dangerous, and in cold weather it increases the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning or hypothermia.
- Older pets may suffer more from arthritis during these months. Outdoor exposure should be limited during extreme weather.