Your cats and dogs will be happiest and healthiest, regardless of the season, if you keep them inside with you.
Here are some guidelines for protecting your pets when the temperature drops:
- Make sure your pets have a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from drafts. Cozy cat or dog beds with warm blankets are perfect. If you keep the household thermostat low, consider a heated pad or pet bed.
- Take dogs out frequently to exercise and relieve themselves but keep them inside the rest of the time. In particular, don’t leave tiny shorthaired and very young or old dogs outside without supervision. Warm sweaters or doggy coats will keep them comfortable on walks. Longhaired larger dogs and those with double coats (like the nordic breeds) may enjoy the cold, but they too, should live primarily indoors with the family.
- Keep dogs’ coats well groomed. Matted fur wont protect them from the cold.
- Use pet-safe antifreeze, which is made with propylene glycol. If ingested in small amounts, it will not hurt your family, pets or wildlife. If you use regular antifreeze, please check your garage and driveway for it and other chemicals. Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that attracts animals and children. Wipe up any spills right away.
- If there are outdoor cats in your neighborhood, bang loudly on car hood or honk the horn before starting the engine. In their search to keep warm, outdoor cats often take refuge next to a warm car engine or tire.
- Consider the amount of exercise your dogs receive during colder weather and adjust the supply of food accordingly. Inside and lazy; less food. Outside and active; more food may be needed to produce more body heat. Consult your veterinarian to be sure.
- If your dogs must be outside, it is imperative that they be protected by a dry, draft free doghouse that is large enough to permit them to sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to hold in body heat. The floor must be raised a few inches off the ground and should be insulated with cedar shavings or straw. The house should be turned to face away from the wind, and the doorway covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.
- Dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors need plenty of fresh water available. They can’t burn calories without water, and if they can’t burn calories, they can’t keep warm. Also, use a tip-resistant, ceramic or hard plastic water bowl rather than a metal one.