Keep Them Safe and Sheltered During Frigid Winter Weather

The forecast is for a new wave of frigid temperatures and possible snow!

While pets may enjoy a romp in the snow, it is important to limit their time outside in cold weather.

Even though some breeds may have thick fur, in our wet climate, they may get soaked and suffer hypothermia. Think about it - hypothermia is defined as a condition in which the body loses heat faster than it can produce heat to maintain a safe body temperature. For many breeds, that can happen quickly in cold and wet conditions.

There are also other hazards for pets during cold weather. Pets can get frostbite on their ears, nose, the tips of their tails, or on their paws. Ice and chemicals can also cause injury to a pet's paws or underside - from dried out pads and skin to cuts from sharp ice shards to irritation from ice-melting chemicals. Pets can also become sick from licking rock salt or de-icing chemicals off their paws.

Domestic and farm animals that must be outside of a house or heated shelter for any length of time need proper shelter from the wind, rain, and snow. They also need a reliable source of water that will not freeze. For dogs, the best option is to keep them indoors or in a heated shelter except for limited walks. The Humane Society of the United States goes so far as to advise cat owners to never let cats outside at all during frigid temperatures even if they are allowed to roam at other times of the year.

Finally, people should be aware that both feral and domestic cats, as well as small wild animals or even small farm animals (such as chickens) may crawl up into the wheel-wells or engine compartments of cars, trucks, and farm machinery in order to get off the frozen ground and to take advantage of heat coming off a parked vehicle.

More detailed information can be found at the websites of
The Humane Society of the United States,
The ASPCA, and ABC news.

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