James R. Speiser, DVM, DABVP, CCRT
January 9, 2017
Unfortunately, when temperatures drop, your pets still need to go outside for a number of reasons, and even though they have some natural protection from the cold, it's still very important to make sure that you give them some additional protection.
The question is often asked "How cold is too cold?" and unfortunately, that answer varies depending on the size of the animal. Smaller animals will lose heat faster than larger ones, as will shorter haired animals. Since this is a difficult question to answer, it's important to understand the signs of hypothermia in pets:
Confusion or less responsive than normal
Cramping and weakness
If you see any of these symptoms, warm them up right away! Wrap them in a blanket, and do your best to warm them.
This winter, consider the following things to help keep your furry friend safe and warm:
Outerwear. Those fuzzy sweaters that you see many pets wearing in the colder months provide an extra layer of insulation from the cold, and can especially help shorter haired pets to stay warm.
Don't leave your pet outside for long periods of time. This may go without saying, but when temperatures drop, it's even more important not to neglect your pet and leave them out for longer than necessary. Bring them in right away and watch them for any signs of hypothermia.
Consider a coat and shoes. When the temperature really drops, in addition to shirts and sweaters for your pet, you can also put them in a specially made pet coat or booties that will protect their paws not only from frostbite, but also the chemicals that are placed on the ground to melt snow and ice.
Please wipe your feet! Keep some towels near the door your pet uses and inspect their paws when they come inside. Wipe away any salt or chemicals, and remove any snow or ice that might be sticking to their paws.
Lastly, it's important to know that there is a relatively new law in Marion County stating that owners may be fined if the temperature is below 20 degrees fahrenheit and your pet is left outside with no shelter.
Winter can be a great time for owners and their pets, but please remember to play it safe and take care of your pets!