WINTER WEATHER CONSIDERATIONS
Some pets are better suited than others for living outdoors. There is a common misconception that dogs will be "fine" if left outside. This is not true.
All pets need adequate shelter from the elements and insulation against cold weather. Pets should not be left outside for long periods in freezing weather. Like humans, they can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite. The young and the senior pets are especially at risk. Pets with arthritis are prone to more discomfort in cold and damp environments.
Certain breeds, such as Huskies and Samoyeds are better suited to very cold weather, but the majority of the animals need your help and intervention. Indoor accommodations are best during extreme temperature drops, but if that is not possible, set up a suitable house in an area protected from wind, rain, and snow. Insulation, such as straw or blankets will help keep in body heat.
If your pet is prone to chewing, do not use blankets or material that can be ingested. Cedar shavings can be irritating to the skin, so use with caution depending on your pet's hair coat.
Caution - do not use a heat lamp, space heater, or other device not approved for use with animals. This is a burn hazard for your pet and a fire hazard. Pet supply vendors sell heated mats for pets to sleep on or to be placed under a dog house, but read and follow directions carefully before use.
Fresh water is a must at all times. Pets are not able to get enough water from licking ice or eating snow. A heated dish is an essential tool for cold climates. The water stays cold, but doesn't freeze. Most of the cords on these types of bowls are protected with a wire spiral wrap, but caution is needed for animals that may chew. Outdoor pets require additional food for energy and maintaining body heat in harsh climates.
Salt and chemical de-icers
Pets who walk on sidewalks that have been "de-iced" are prone to dry, chapped, and potentially painful paws. This will encourage the pet to lick their paws, and ingestion may cause gastrointestinal irritation and upset stomach. Wash off your pet's feet after an outing with a warm wet cloth or footbath.
• Antifreeze Dangers
Thirsty and curious pets will lap up antifreeze. Just a few licks can be fatal. Lock up antifreeze containers and clean up spills immediately. For more information, you may google pet friendly anti-freeze.
• Heat-seekers beware!
Cats will seek warmth where they can get it, and that may be the warm engine of a car just parked. Before starting your car, knock on the hood or honk the horn to scare off any cats - and prevent tragedy.
• Arthritic animals
Arthritis is worse during cold and damp weather. Take special care to handle your pet gently, watch out for icy walks, provide soft (and possibly heated) bedding, and administer any necessary medications. See your veterinarian if your pet is arthritic or you suspect arthritis.