Is it bitterly cold outside where you live? There are many parts of the United States with temperatures that dip below freezing during the winter months, which can contribute to both human and pet bodily harm. Naturally, you would keep yourself safe from the cold temps, so make sure to do the same for your pets and animals.
- First and foremost, DO NOT leave your dog outside in freezing cold temperatures. Dogs have been rescued or found dead in yards tied to trees or other stationary objects in icy and snowy elements. One of the most devastating things to come upon is a dog, or another animal, that has been tethered in the backyard during a winter freeze and to learn that the dog has actually frozen to the ground only to die from exposure. Being tied up and helpless to save yourself would be terrifying. Just think how our trusting pets feel when they are left in this state and unable to seek shelter, all while quickly succumbing to freezing temperatures.
- Whether house cat or outdoor cat, they need to be brought and kept indoors during cold weather. Scared and cold cats can get themselves into dangerous situations like getting stuck in pipes they have crawled into for warmth or hiding under car hoods on a warm engine. Check for cats and other small animals that may be in or around your vehicle before you start it up by making loud noises to alert them of your presence.
- Lock up that doggie door. If you have a little door for your dog to go in and out of at their own will, lock it and seal it up for the winter. This will keep dogs and cats from going outside, unknowingly, into freezing or stormy weather. Plus, you won’t have chilly air seeping into your home.
- Monitor your dog’s time spent outside. This may seem logical, but it’s not an automatic thing that all pet parents do. Play time in cold weather may be limited to inside only, or let dogs romp through the snow if the weather is doable — use your best judgement! If it’s really cold outside, limit the number of times your dog goes out for relieve themselves. Have a potty training puppy? Put a doggie sweater on him, then take him out on a leash for only a few times throughout the day, and then be sure to have an indoor potty training area set up in the garage or bathroom where it is warm.
- Dry off dogs and accessories after winter play. Weather permitting, you can still take those daily walks or even take a snow play day, both of which can be great for your dog to keep from going stir crazy. Before you go out, however, be sure to bundle up smaller or shorter-haired dogs in waterproof coats and, if they will wear them, protective dog booties for their sensitive paws. As soon as you get home, remove wet dog clothing and collars and towel or blow dry fur.
- As with hot weather, DO NOT leave pets in cold cars. Your car can quickly turn into an icebox, and result in their death.
One final word to go with these basic winter weather pet safety tips — the best thing you can do to keep your pets safe is to use your common sense. You know your dog or cat better than anyone, so do what’s best for them and stay alert when it’s cold out.