When temperatures drop, of course you’ll want to keep your pets inside as much as possible– to keep them safe and warm. Just like us, our pets are vulnerable to frostbite and hypothermia, especially in places on their bodies where they have no fur. And also just like people, our elderly and very young pets are the most vulnerable! Here are some additional tips:
- Wipe those bellies and paws. Salt, antifreeze, and other ice-melting chemicals can get on their undersides and feet; be sure to wipe it off before they have a chance to lick it off and make themselves sick! There are also paw safe de-icers that people can use instead of salt.
- Keep outdoor activity short. Obviously, dogs need to go outside for potty breaks and a little exercise, but best keep it short! Same with indoor/outdoor cats. Generally, if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for them. Of course, there is a big difference between a Husky and a Chihuahua in terms of the coat they’re already wearing! Northern breeds love the cold and snow and can certainly tolerate it much more.
- Consider a sweater. Short-haired dogs might need sweaters.
- Knock on your car. Remember that cats like to get warm by getting under cars and car hoods. Be sure to bang on your car hood before starting your car and taking off. Someone in our community oncedrove to work not knowing that a cat was under his hood; thankfully, our Rescuer was able to get the cat out and have our veterinarians treat his burned paws. A good tip is to look for paw prints in the snow!
- Give me shelter. If you have feral cats who live entirely outdoors, they would also appreciate shelter. There are simple and cheap ways– e.g., rubber storage bins with a small door with straw (not hay) inside. And though dogs have been bred for thousands of years to want to be with us humans as family, it is unfortunately still legal in Michigan to have dogs who live their entire lives alone outside . However, there are still some laws that must be followed– i.e., the dogs must have some type of enclosure where they can protect themselves from the elements with bedding that resists cold and moisture. Also a concern for those dogs is water that isn’t frozen, and extra nutrition, because having to weather the cold burns more energy.
This is the time of the year we find dogs, victims of neglect, who have perished, literally frozen, after being intentionally left outside with minimal shelter. If you see an animal abandoned or left outside in extreme weather without proper shelter, please call our cruelty report hotline at (734) 661-3512.