Here’s How to Protect Your Pets During Cold Weather

updated May 3, 2019
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Many places in the United States are facing an extreme cold front this week, with temperatures much chillier than normal for early in the winter season. While that might means you need to bundle up a bit more for New Year’s Eve festivities, don’t forget about your four legged family members. Here are a few ways that you can protect pets from the cold.

Every pet has its own cold tolerance, but in general, smaller dogs, those with shorter or hair-like fur, or short legs (since their bodies are closer to the ground) will feel the cold faster than larger, more thick-coated dogs.

Dr. Nicole Breda of Animal Rescue League in Boston told CBS that in below 20 degree weather, pets can suffer from frostbite and hypothermia in just minutes.

In those conditions, time outside should be kept brief, and the American Veterinary Medical Association suggests having coats, sweaters, or boots for your dog, avoiding walking on ice, and wiping down paws and bellies afterward to prevent poisoning from ice melt, antifreeze, and the like.

If you have an outdoor cat, they should spend as much time inside as possible, and when outside, should have access to enclosed shelter, as well as food even if they are hunters, because prey animals are harder to find in the cold.

Here’s how to spot hypothermia and frostbite, according to AVMA:

If your pet is whining, shivering, seems anxious, slows down or stops moving, seems weak, or starts looking for warm places to burrow, get them back inside quickly because they are showing signs of hypothermia. Frostbite is harder to detect, and may not be fully recognized until a few days after the damage is done. If you suspect your pet has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your veterinarian immediately.

ASPCA also recommends keeping your home properly humidified, and skipping bath time for your pups as often as possible, because their skins’ oils help protect from the cold.

And just like in the summer, pets shouldn’t be left unattended in a car; it can act like a refrigerator and animals can freeze to death inside, Steve Shatkin, president of the board of the NJ Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told USA Today.

If it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, says the ASPCA.

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