Life-threatening cold weather
The frigid temperatures we’ll be experiencing for the next week or so will make life outdoors dangerous for our pets. Temperatures are projected to remain below freezing even in the middle of the day through Christmas weekend. Dogs and cats can easily develop frostbite and hypothermia in such conditions, leading to permanent damage or even death. It is crucial to bring your dogs and cats indoors until the weather improves. The temperature any given animal can tolerate depends on their size, age, coat type, and general health, so don’t take chances with the health and safety of your four-legged family members.
Bring Pets Indoors!
It’s best, of course, to bring outdoor pets into your home. But If you absolutely cannot bring “your pets into your living area, at least get them out of the open air. Bring them into a basement, garage, shed, or barn. Give them access to plenty of water and food, because they will burn more calories in lower temperatures. Make sure they have a dry space to lie down.
If you put animals in a garage to protect them from the cold, be sure antifreeze is safely stored and any spills are cleaned thoroughly. Antifreeze is extremely poisonous for both dogs and cats.
It’s the Law
Remember, protecting your pet from freezing temperatures is not only the responsible and humane thing to do, it’s the law. County ordinances state that failure to provide pets with protection from harsh weather conditions 24 hours a day is animal cruelty, which is against the law.
More Useful Information about Pets and Cold Weather
Cats and Cars
In cold weather, cats often seek shelter under the hood of your car, drawn by the heat of the engine. Check under your car, bang on the hood, and honk your horn before starting your engine.
Dog Walk Safety Tips
Both wind chill and precipitation influence how quickly animals start to suffer ill effects outdoors. The length of exposure also matters, so keep walks and potty breaks short. Many dogs, particularly those who are small breeds, short-haired, and/or seniors, would benefit from sweaters or jackets. Boots can protect delicate paws from moisture and from salt, sand, or chemical deicing agents.
When returning from time outdoors, clean and dry your dog’s feet. Check for redness or other signs of irritation between his toes and for cracked paw pads.
Signs of Hypothermia
Hypothermia happens when an animal’s body temperature drops below normal levels. A dog’s body will respond to the cold by narrowing blood vessels near the surface to send more blood to essential organs like the brain and the heart. Watch for early symptoms of hypothermia. Both dogs and cats will shiver, have difficulty moving, appear lethargic or confused, and have pale gums and cold ears and paws. If their body temperatures continue to drop, they will stop shivering, and develop slow, irregular heart rates and breathing. At this point, their pupils may become dilated and fixed. Your pet can slip into a coma and die.
Reporting Pets in Danger
If you know of a situation where an animal is being left outside unprotected, please contact animal control and report it so that an officer can do a “concern for welfare” check and get that animal help. The phone number for Carroll County Animal Control is 770-834-8150.