Dogs and cats need extra care from the weather this time of year, and the following tips can help them survive the winter weather. Sadly pets really do die from exposure each year, so as pet parents we need to be extra careful to keep our furry friends safe in the cold weather.
Temma Martin from the Utah Animal Adoption Center shares ways to keep your pet comfortable and healthy during this time of year.
Bring pets inside! All dogs and cats do best indoors, but even outdoor pets should be brought inside at night when the temperature drops below freezing. Cats and small or short-haired dogs require extra protection and should stay indoors because they are not physically capable of generating enough body heat to protect them. Older dogs and puppies are also especially vulnerable. Although some breeds have thick coats to protect them during the day, any dog can get frostbite on exposed areas like their noses, ears, toes and stomachs. When the temperatures drop below freezing—and certainly when the temps are in the teens or below—all pets should be offered a spot in the house, basement, or at least the garage to prevent them from suffering in the cold.
Sweaters aren’t just fashion statements. Small dogs and puppies really do have more trouble staying warm than big dogs. So when they go outside for potty breaks or walks, it’s wise to bundle them up in a warm jacket or sweater.
Make sure outdoor dogs have adequate shelter. Dogs who spend all or most of their time outside -even during the daytime–need dry, elevated dog houses with clean, dry bedding like straw or blankets and a flap over the door to keep drafts out. Insulation helps too, and the house should be large enough for the dog to turn around but no bigger, so it’s small enough to maintain the dog’s body heat.
Check the water bowl often. A bowl of frozen water can’t help a thirsty pet, so check the bowl frequently and break the ice and refill the water throughout the day. Lining a metal bowl with a thin coating of petroleum jelly helps the ice to slip out easily. Dogs won’t lick ice or eat snow to relieve their thirst.
Feed outdoor pets a little extra food. Producing body heat requires extra calories, so increase the pet’s food if he spends much of his time outside.
Wipe pets’ paws after walks. Salt and other chemicals used to melt snow can irritate their skin, so use a wet towel to clean their pads and between their toes.
Tap the hood of your car before starting the engine to awaken any sleeping cats. Outdoor cats sometimes seek shelter and warmth near the engine, so startling them will send them scurrying and keep them from being injured.