Although animals have fur coats, pets still need warmth during cold weather months. Pets left outside in extreme temperatures are at risk for hypothermia, frostbite and death. Leaving your pet out in the cold without proper shelter is considered neglect and is illegal in Atlanta. To prevent that, follow these tips to keep your pet happy and safe during colder weather!
Keep your pet inside.
Wind chill makes the air colder than actual temperature readings. So, limit your pet’s time outdoors, especially to prevent frostbite on ears, tail and feet. Make sure to gradually expose your pet to dropping temperatures, instead of all at once. Don’t forget to dry your pet when they come back in, especially the paws, to prevent tiny cuts and cracked pads.
Beware of antifreeze and rock salt.
Antifreeze, which often collects on driveways and roads, tastes good to pets but is poisonous. If you suspect your pet has ingested antifreeze, contact your veterinarian immediately! Also, rock salt is used to melt ice on sidewalks and can irritate footpads. Be sure to rinse and dry your pet’s feet after being outside. Buying pet-safe ice melts, sold at pet stores, gets the job done, but will not harm your pets.
Help out community cats.
When it is cold outside, outdoor cats often look for any warm space they can find. Cats who seek shelter under the hoods of cars are often injured or killed when the car is started. Before you start your car, honk your horn to give cats a chance to escape. Also, help community cats by building them an insulated shelter with a styrofoam cooler fill with straw (no blankets because they freeze).
Consider cold-weather gear.
Grass and pavement are frequently covered with frozen dew during the early mornings and late evenings. To help protect your dog’s paw pads, consider purchasing dog booties for your dog to wear when walking your dog. Many pet stores sell them and recommend that you measure your dog’s paw to ensure a proper fit. The booties may take some getting used to, but your dog, and their paws, will thank you!
Serve up the spa treatment.
If your pet’s paws get cracked or cut due to the cold weather, there are many paw soothing products that provide relief. Look for products that contain natural ingredients, as your pet may try to lick the product while on their paws. Also consider purchasing fleece blankets and cozy pet beds to give your pet some extra warmth while indoors.
Provide plenty of food and water.
It takes more energy to keep warm in the winter. So, feed your pet extra food if they spend a lot of time outdoors. Also, provide plenty of fresh water as your pet is just as likely to get dehydrated in the winter as in the summer. Outside water bowls will freeze, so refill outside bowls often.
Provide adequate shelter for outdoor pets.
If your dog lives outdoors, you must provide a well-insulated and draft-free doghouse. The opening should face south with a sturdy, flexible covering to prevent icy winds from entering. Keep straw, NOT hay, since it retains moisture, inside the doghouse. Avoid towels and blankets which can easily dampen and make the space colder.