Tips on how to keep your pets safe during cold weather.
1. Watch the forecast for sub-25 temperatures. - Don’t allow domestic animals (cats, dogs, rabbits) to be in exposed environments under 25 degrees Fahrenheit. At temperatures above 25, provide them with some sort of shelter. A three-sided shelter is fine as long as the animals can get out of the wind and cold. Insulated shelters are preferred, and the animals should have a bedding liner. For sub-25 weather, try to bring animals to a protected environment, such as a garage or basement.
2. Keep an eye out for frozen water bowls. – In general, animals won’t drink as much if their water is very cold, and they certainly can’t drink if their water source is frozen. Try to feed and water your animals in a warmer area, such as a garage, if freezing temperatures are a concern. This will help avoid dehydration.
3. Use pet foods high in fat content. – Fat helps animals maintain higher body temperatures. Check and compare ingredient labels when choosing the best food for your furry friends.
4. Keep an eye on cats. - Cats lose landmarks in the snow and can get lost easily. If possible, bring your cat inside during snowstorms.
5. Study the paws. – Snow and ice can stick between the toe pads of many animals. Keep excess fur trimmed away from paw pads, and check the animal’s feet for icy build up or signs of irritation or redness.
6. Keep pets away from open water. - Animals sometimes fall into water, especially when covered by thin layers of ice, so hypothermia is a concern. Make sure swimming pools are covered, and try to keep your pets away from other bodies of water, such as ponds.
7. Provide good bedding. – Quality bedding will provide lots of warmth. Avoid straw, because it can host mites, and uncovered cedar, due to potential pet allergies.
8. Watch out for thin dogs. – Some dogs, such as hounds, have low body fat. This makes them more susceptible to cold. Keep a close eye on these animals, and try to play it safe by offering warmer, covered areas early.
Source: Donna Tully, registered vete