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Metro Animal Services Provides Tips To Keep Your Pets Safe In The Cold

Monday March 3, 2014

ARE YOU AND YOUR PET PREPARED FOR THE COLD?

Here are some tips from Metro Animal Services in conjunction with the ASPCA and American Humane Society

Brrrr—it's cold outside! Follow these guidelines to protect you and your companion animal.

1. Keep your pets inside, both during the day and night. Just because they have fur doesn’t mean they can withstand cold temperatures.

2. Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.

3. During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.

4. Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm, dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.

5. Thoroughly wipe off your dog's legs and stomach when he/she comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He/she can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice. After being outside, check paws, ears and tail for frostbite. Frostbitten skin usually appears pale or gray and can be treated by wrapping the area in a dry towel to gradually warm the area. Check with your veterinarian if you suspect frostbite.

6. Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him/her out for a walk. Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him/her a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.

7. Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.

8. Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him/her inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself/herself.

9. Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him/her, and his/her fur, in tip-top shape.

10. Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Signs of toxic ingestion include excessive drooling, vomiting and depression. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pets have ingested any antifreeze!


Precautions for Outdoor Pets

  • If dogs are left outside, they should have a draft-free shelter large enough to stand and turn around in, yet small enough to retain body heat. Use a layer of straw or other bedding material to help insulate them against the cold. Make sure the entrance to the shelter faces away from the direction of incoming wind and snow.
  • When taking your pets out for a bathroom break, stay with them. If it’s too cold for you to stand outside, it is probably also too cold for your pets.
  • Remember that staying warm requires extra calories. Outdoor animals typically need more calories in the winter, so feed them accordingly when the temperature drops. Talk to your veterinarian for advice on proper diet.
  • Watch your pet’s outside fresh-water bowl. If it is not heated, you may need to refresh it more often as it freezes in cold weather.

Tips courtesy of ASPCA and American Humane Society