Cold weather is here, and pets need extra attention in this season as well. Extended periods in cold temperatures can be deadly for cats and dogs.

American Humane suggests stocking up on pets’ food and medicines if icy weather is in the forecast since driving may be tricky for a few days. Dogs may also need more calories to stay warm in colder temps. If weight loss occurs, consult a veterinarian for increased caloric needs.

Cats should stay indoors since they can freeze in cold weather without shelter. Feral cats sometimes seek shelter in car motors. If they are in the area, look under auto hoods or bang the hood loudly each morning before starting the car to avoid burning, injuring, or killing them.

Some people create cat boxes for feral cats to keep warm in the winter months. A quick internet search will reveal a number of low-cost designs for these shelters for those who wish to help feral cats in their area.

Pets also need less frequent bathing in the winter months. Shampoos remove oils needed to keep skin from being dry and irritated. After bath time, make sure pets are completely dry before taking them outside.

Top Dog Health recommends giving dogs an Omega 3 supplement to keep the skin better moisturized.

Just like humans, pets get stiffer and can have achy joints in cold weather, especially if they are seniors. Keep them moving with inside games and consider adding a joint supplement if they have difficulty getting up.

Grooming them less frequently is also wise since longer fur helps pets retain warmth. Sweaters may be necessary for short-hair breeds and older, less active dogs to avoid dangerous old exposure. Getting wet sweaters off as soon as the pet returns inside is important to avoid a harmful temperature drops.

If dogs stay outside, they need a tight shelter free of drafts and a thick layer of straw or cedar shaving bedding. Do not use blankets, which become wet and cause more hypothermia danger.

Change the bedding frequently to ensure it is dry. Make sure the entrance has a door flap and faces away from wind, snow and rain. Also make sure outdoor pets have access to unfrozen water at all times.

Puppies are also more susceptible to cold temps. Older dogs are also more endangered by cold exposure, especially if they have kidney, thyroid, or hormonal issues. Prolonged exposure to cold weather can cause irregular heartbeat and low oxygen, according to Top Dog Heath.

If the pet is lifting its paws frequently on snow or ice, that’s a sign that it’s time to get back inside for a warm-up and paw wipe. Getting the ice off paws and belly after a walk or play time is important to avoid frostbite danger.

After winter walks, clean the pets’ paws if the walk included salted or de-iced areas. The chemicals are irritating to skin and toxic if licked off. The ASPCA suggests putting petroleum jelly on paw pads before a walk for protection.

Pets should always be supervised outdoors to avoid dangers. Consider using non-toxic antifreeze (containing propylene glycol) since even small amount of ethylene glycol antifreeze leaked on a carport floor can be deadly.

Frozen ponds are also a danger; never let a pet walk on a frozen pond. Icy paths are also a danger to older pets, which can suffer a disk, hip, or bone break with a bad slip.

Top Dog Health also reminds pet parents that their furry kids are more likely to get lost in a snowy landscape, which can be disorienting. The familiar smells are also covered up. Make sure pets have on ID tags and are microchipped so reuniting them with owners is easier!

Remember, if it’s too cold for you to be outside, it’s too cold for your pets too!

3 thoughts on “Cold weather requires special attention to pets’ safety

  1. Thank you for sharing this info. I am a fairly new dog owner and so this information is very helpful to me. Thanks!

  2. Daniel T Hester says:

    Dear Ms. Page: Thank you for the wonderful piece on cold weather and pet’s safety. Your article pointed out the necessary steps we must take to protect our animals in cold weather.

    As a life long animal welfare advocate, it saddens me to drive around our beautiful county and see dogs tethered to trees 24/7, especially in cold weather. I hope some day our elected officials at the county level will take the steps necessary to initiate a logical tethering ordinance that is enforceable throughout Iredell County. Animal welfare is non-pollical and the overwhelming majority of citizens support stricter standards on how we treat animals. An unattended tethered dog is a safety risk for the public because the dog is going to protect its territory if anyone would enter it. Just look at the number of children who have been disfigured or killed as a result of a tethered dog. This practice needs to end. Simply put, if you can’t treat your companion animal as a “companion”, you should not have a dog. Thank you!

    Dan Hester

  3. I whole heartedly agree with the above article. I wish that everybody in the county would read and comply with said article. I especially like the sentence “If it’s too cold for YOU outside it’s too cold for your animal also!!!”
    Thank you for posting it.

    Bill Harris


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