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Protecting Your Pet During Freezing Weather


According to experts, all pets should come inside when the temperature is below 20 degrees.

The winter freeze we’ve experienced in recent days has led to questions about pet safety. According to experts, all pets should come inside when the temperature is below 20 degrees. For short-hair animals, or pets that are old or young and can’t regulate their temperature well, it’s recommended that you bring them inside when the temperature is under 40 degrees.
It's a common belief that dogs and cats are more resistant than people to cold weather because of their fur, but it's untrue. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and generally should be kept inside. Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods in below-freezing weather.


If your pet cannot come inside, Veterinarian Dr. Lorraine Corriveau says you must provide them with appropriate shelter, which includes an enclosure that is off the ground with bedding or straw to keep the animal warm. Corriveau is a primary care clinician at the Purdue University Veterinary Hospital in the College of Veterinary Medicine. She says a smaller enclosure is better in the winter, as a larger enclosure takes more time to get warm. Dr. Corriveau also says it is important to frequently change your pet’s water or use a heated bowl to ensure their water is not frozen.
She cautions that antifreeze spills are also important to watch out for with pets because it is toxic for pets and can severely damage their kidneys if ingested. “Unfortunately, antifreeze for our pets tastes sweet and so they like licking it up. Making sure that any kind of antifreeze spills you rinse off really, really well into a kind of like stone [or] gravel area. And then maybe cover it up with dirt so there’s no chances that any licking can kind of happen. But if you do think that your pet has licked antifreeze time is of the essence and you need to get them to an emergency veterinarian right away.”
Check your dog's paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage, such as cracked or bleeding paw pads. During a walk, a sudden lameness may be due to an injury or may be due to ice accumulation between his/her toes. You may be able to reduce the chance of iceball accumulation by clipping the hair between your dog's toes.
Finally, Corriveau says that animals, cats in particular, may get under the hood of your car to stay warm in the winter, so it is important to always check before driving.

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, and a graduate of the University of Washington, Jeff began his on-air broadcasting career 33 years ago in the Black Hills of South Dakota as a general assignment reporter.