As temperatures continue to drop, remember that cold weather can be hazardous for pets. While many know how dangerous warm weather can be, frosty weather poses just as serious health concerns for pets. Just like humans, animals can only tolerate so much exposure to below freezing temperatures.
Know the Limits
Each pet is different and it is critical to understand your pet’s winter tolerance. During the winter months, walks and outside play time may have to be shortened. Depending on your pet’s coat, body fat, health and activity level will all factor into how much time can be spent outside. It is a common belief that animals can withstand the cold temperatures, but this is untrue. Just like humans, dogs, cats, and other pets are susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite.
If you are taking your pet for a walk or having outside playtime, be sure to wipe off their paws after coming inside. During walks, animals may pick up salt, ice, and chemicals that can be toxic. Salt and moisture can also irritate their paws causing soreness and cuts. Wiping down their paws is a winter essential. However, do not bathe your pet too frequently in the winter because a bath will remove essential oils and increase the chance of developing flaky, dry skin.
Pets should not be left outside for an unreasonable amount of time in the winter. However, if your pet has to be out, be sure to provide adequate shelter. Animals who are outdoors for much of the day have to have protection from the freezing temperatures and wind. The shelter should be raised a few inches from the ground, have a sturdy plastic or burlap doorway and be covered to provide the best protection. Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors also need to be given more food because they will use more energy to keep warm. Lastly, be sure to check their water dish and use a plastic bowl routinely. Metal bowls will freeze in low temps, and your pet’s tongue may get stuck.
According to the Humane Society, animal neglect is considered a misdemeanor crime in all 50 states. Cold weather can be deadly for animals and it is imperative to speak up if you see a neglected pet. Feel encouraged to let the owner know your concern because unfortunately, not all know about cold weather risks. If you see continued neglect, report what you see to either your local animal control or county sheriff.
Remember to take proper care of your pets this winter. If it’s too cold for you, then it’s also too cold for your pet.
Lisa Landman is a strong advocate of adopting pets and has six rescue dogs! Want to see photos of her pets? Check our her dog gallery or Twitter!