Pets face specific dangers in the winter, and their human friends and owners should take some steps to protect and care for them in chilly temperatures. Simple steps can maintain their comfort and security, without costing too much money.
Most significantly, keep pets inside when the temperature drops. Dogs and cats, even if normally allowed outside, should be brought indoors unless taken out for exercise. Frostbite and hypothermia can set in within minutes, since pets have sensitive skin that can freeze quickly. Wearing sweaters can help short-haired dogs keep comfortable while outside briefly.
Alyssa Longway, Volunteer Coordinator for the Coulee Region Humane Society explained, “Dogs should really only be taken outside to ‘use the bathroom’ for a couple of minutes when temperatures are freezing. Getting them back inside and wiping off their paws helps remove snow-melting chemicals left in salt too.”
Pets should also be given extra water, since maintaining body warmth requires increased energy. Using plastic bowls instead of metal will help ensure that pets’ tongues do not get stuck to the container in cold temperatures. Along with regular food and water monitoring, it is critical to keep antifreeze away from pets. Its sweet taste attracts animals, but it is deadly if consumed.
Although strays should be reported to local humane shelters, leaving food outside for them is another step to help other animals stay safe during the winter. Collaring and micro-chipping pets are great ideas to make sure that pets can be identified if lost in cold weather, when familiar scents pointing towards home can be hidden by snow and ice.
For more information regarding pet safety, visit avma.org, aspca.org, or humanesociety.org.