Getting ready for extremely cold temperatures and the possibility of a power outage can take a lot of time. The care and well-being of family is of primary importance in potentially dangerous situations. It’s really easy to overlook the needs of pets and other animals when extreme temperatures threaten.
Cold weather can worsen some medical conditions in animals, including arthritis and old age. Just like humans, an animal’s cold tolerance can vary based on coat, body fat, activity level, and health. Be aware of what your pet can tolerate, and provide warmth and care for them too.
- Consider bringing your pets indoors when temperatures drop near and below freezing.
- If pets must remain outside, provide a warm and comfortable sleeping place out of wind and weather with thick, dry bedding like straw.
- Inside, provide warm bedding in a draft-free area.
- Provide fresh water and plenty of food. Check several times daily to be sure water and food aren’t frozen. Pets that remain outside require more calories in winter to generate enough body heat and energy to keep them warm.
- Check your pet’s paws for signs of cold-weather injury, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding, after each visit outside. Trim hair between a dog’s toes to reduce the chance of iceball accumulation.
- Pet sweaters and booties are great if your pet tolerates them. Make sure whatever you use fits your pet well, and don’t use any wet sweaters or coats as this will make your dog colder and risk illness.
- Wash and wipe down your pet’s feet and belly when he comes back indoors to remove moisture and toxic chemicals like deicers and antifreeze and reduce the chance he’ll be poisoned when he starts licking himself.
- Keep pets and their bedding away from space heaters to prevent burns and avoid knocking the heater over and causing fire.
- Provide warm bedding in a draft-free area
If your pet exhibits any of the following signs, you need to get him inside and warm as soon as possible. He may be showing signs of hypothermia or frostbite. Consult a veterinarian immediately.
- Slows down or stops moving
- Appears weak
- Burrowing for warm places
Michelle W. Flannery is the public information officer for the Walton County Citizens Corps, Inc.