Winter weather can be brutal, especially for our pets that depend on us to keep them safe. As temperatures drop and the wind chill makes the outdoors challenging, even a brilliantly sunny day can become deadly for a cat or dog.
Pets, like people, vary in their ability to deal with cold weather. Long-haired dogs, for example, may tolerate cold weather better than a short-haired dog. Shorter breeds often have a tough time outside in the cold because their bellies are closer to the ground. Just like humans, older pets often are less able to tolerate the cold, especially when they have existing illnesses.
Even a walk in the park can be dangerous for pets if they lick their paws after walking on ice-melting chemicals, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
Dogs and cats are also drawn to the sweet taste of poisonous coolants, windshield de-icers and antifreeze. As little as a tablespoon can result in severe acute kidney failure in dogs, while as little as 1 teaspoon can be fatal to cats. Consider using products that contain propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol and clean up any spills quickly.
Pets are members of our families. Keep them safe this winter by following a few tips provided by the Humane Society of the United States.
• Keep your pets sheltered. Even cats that roam outside during warmer months should be kept inside.
• Aside from walks or exercise outside, dogs should inside with you.
• Wind-chill can be deadly. Any exposed skin is at risk for frostbite.
• Hypothermia can also set in quickly during extremely cold weather. For this reason, smaller dogs are more comfortable wearing a sweater.
• Wipe your dog’s paws with a damp cloth after a walk.
• Just like hot cars, cold cars also pose a danger to pets.
• Young, old or ill pets are particularly susceptible. Unless absolutely necessary, leave Fido or Fifi at home.
• If you see a pet left out in the cold, politely let the owner know you are concerned.
Feral cats, raccoons and other animals often find warmth under the hood of a car in the winter. Avoid harming these animals by banging on the hood of the car before starting the engine. You can also help out a neighborhood animal by creating a temporary shelter and leaving out a bowl of unfrozen water.
As the ASPCA notes, if it’s too cold outside for you, it’s too cold for your pet.