Cold Weather Care for Pets

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Cold Weather Care for Pets


Byline: Metro Editorial Services

When temperatures drop, humans are not the only ones who feel the chill. Cold weather also can take its toll on animals, including dogs, cats and birds. Protecting pets when winter arrives involves modifying care tactics.

A major winter snowfall or simply a snap of cold weather can cause many problems for pets. Much like humans, dogs and cats can experience frostbite on extremities when subjected to cold temperatures. Ears, noses and paws all may bear the brunt of cold weather, increasing the risk of injury.

Provide warm shelter

Although it may appear that pets are well insulated against cold temperatures, fur or feathers do not make pets impervious to the cold. According to the ASPCA, fur wetted by snow may not dry quickly, putting animals at risk for a chill or even hypothermia. As a precautionary measure, keep companion animals inside when temperatures drop below 30 degrees.

If yours is an outside dog, be sure that he or she is equipped with dry, draft-free shelter. A doghouse that is too large will not retain heat, so keep this in mind. Reduce wind chill by placing the doghouse where it will not be in the direct line of wind. You may want to think about keeping the dog in an insulated shed or garage if you prefer not to move the pet inside.

Cats can easily freeze while outdoors; therefore, it is safer to keep them inside. Also, outdoors a cat may seek unsafe shelter, such as under the hoods of cars where they can be injured or killed if the car is started.

Dress warmly

A mammals system for regulating heat can be compromised when there is excessive cold. No matter its type of fur, a dog or cat may not be able to tolerate long periods of cold weather, unless it is a breed that was specifically bred for remaining outdoors in the cold, like a Malamute or Husky. When venturing outside, consider the use of a sweater or vest on short-haired dogs, but keep an eye on the pet. Wearing a coat doesnt mean he should be left outdoors unattended.

Cats probably will not tolerate any type of clothing. If going outdoors to a vet appointment, use a carrier that is insulated from the cold with thick blankets.

Limit drafts

Address drafts around the house, which will increase your comfort and that of your companion animals. Dogs and cats lie on the ground, where colder air tends to collect. It may be several degrees cooler near the floor where they reside. Check windows and doors for drafts. If repairs or replacements arent financially possible, consider the use of draft guards or insulating curtains. …

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