WEATHER AUTHORITY: Cold weather and your pets

We're expecting some bitter, cold temperatures this week and while it's important to keep ourselves warm, it's just as important to keep our furry friends warm too! 

The Humane Society offers these tips to help your beloved pet in the cold winter months: 

Bundle up, wipe down

  • No matter what the temperature is, windchill can threaten a pet's life. Exposed skin on noses, ears and paw pads are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia during extreme cold snaps. For this reason, short-haired dogs often feel more comfortable wearing a sweater — even during short walks.
  • Rock salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet's feet. Wipe all paws with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates their mouth.

Remove common poisons

  • Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that may attract animals and children. Wipe up any antifreeze spills immediately and keep it, like all household chemicals, out of reach. Coolants and antifreeze made with propylene glycol are less toxic to pets, wildlife and family. Read more about pets and antifreeze »
  • Dogs are at particular risk of salt poisoning in winter due to the rock salt used in many areas — often when licking it from their paws after a walk. Store de-icing salt in a safe place and wipe your dog’s paws, even after short walks. If your dog ingests rock salt, call a veterinarian immediately. Read up on other household dangers »

Protect outdoor animals

  • If there are outdoor cats, either owned pets or community cats in your area, remember that they need protection from the elements as well as food and water. It's easy to give them a hand.
  • Cars are one of many hazards to small animals — warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife, who may crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car's hood to scare them away before starting your engine.
  • You can also help make your property safe for deer in the wintertime by waiting until after the first week of December to string lights, and after then, only on trees over six inches in diameter. Before the first snow, you should also store summer recreational materials, like hammocks and swings. Make the rest of your yard safe for winter wildlife » 
     

Horse care

  • Be sure your horses have access to a barn or a three-sided run-in so they can escape the wind and cold. While not all horses will need to be blanketed, blankets will help horses keep warm and dry, especially if there is any rain or snow. If you’ve body-clipped your horses, keep them blanketed throughout the winter.
  • Give your horses access to unfrozen water at all times. You can use heated buckets or water heaters/de-icers to make sure the water doesn’t freeze. Also, be sure to feed your horses more forage—unlimited amounts, if possible—during extreme cold. This will help your horses create heat and regulate their body temperatures.

Speak out

  • If you encounter a pet left in the cold, politely let the owner know you're concerned. Some people genuinely don’t know the risk that cold weather poses to their pets or livestock, and will be quick to correct any problems you address. If someone you raise these concerns with responds poorly or continues to neglect their animals, follow our steps on reporting wintertime neglect.

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