By Samuetta Hill Drew
Last week most of our nation experienced some extremely bitter cold with some temperatures in our state being record breakers. Since winter has arrived, it is natural for temperatures to begin dropping. Just like humans, pets are also likely to feel the temperature changes. When the temperatures drop humans tend to dress in layers to protect themselves, so what safety measures do pets use for protection? When are these cold weather protections needed?
There are variables that determine whether a dog is safe and comfortable while outside in the winter. These include the actual temperature, the weather conditions such as rain, sleet, snow, etc., your dog’s fur, their individual preferences, and the outdoor setup.
Some dogs may barely notice the temperature change (if they like snow or cold weather). Double-coated breeds and those with thick undercoats are best suited to cold weather, though no dog is invincible. This is why tiny chihuahuas and lean greyhounds, for example, are not well-suited for a frigid blast. Keep an eye on your dog anytime the thermometer reads 20 degrees Fahrenheit or below, regardless of the breed.
Keep in mind that just because your dog may have a winter fur coat does not mean they are not susceptible to the same cold-weather sicknesses and injuries that can afflict humans. Truthfully, a majority of the dogs and cats are not huge fans of being outside in the winter.
Remember legally, it can be considered neglect to leave a dog out in the cold for extended periods. Whether they are outside for a while or just for a potty break, some need to wear a winter jacket. This may also apply after a trip to the groomer, when their fur is shorter, and all the short-haired breeds. Consult with your veterinarian.
Whether you live in the city or suburbs, outdoor cats handle cold weather a little differently than dogs. Outdoor cats will seek shelter in a warm vehicle engine. This is why it is recommended in the winter months before you start your car for your early morning commute, look underneath your vehicle first. Other safety tips are to tap on the hood first before starting your engine and check the tires to make sure there are not any cats hiding there.
Cats have been known to escape into wheel wells or engine bays in order to stay warm. To avoid disaster, be wary of starting your vehicle before verifying there are not any cats in it. If feral cats do reside in your area, consider creating shelters complete with blankets to help keep the cats warm, protected and less likely to congregate near your vehicles.
Not all dogs and cats are made for the cold winter weather. These cold weather safety tips for pets will help you Keep an Eye on Safety and protect your pets from the elements. Next week’s safety article in this series will discuss warning signs if your pet has gotten ill from the weather and the different types of suitable outdoor shelters.