Help keep your pet
safe during the colder months by following these simple guidelines:
- Don't leave dogs outdoors when the temperature drops. Dogs and cats
are safer indoors, except when taken out for supervised exercise.
Regardless of the season, shorthaired, very young, or old dogs and all
cats should never be left outside without supervision. Short-coated dogs
may feel more comfortable wearing a sweater during walks.
- Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter
because keeping warm depletes energy. Routinely check your pet's water
dish to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen. Use plastic food
and water bowls rather than metal; when the temperature is low, your
pet's tongue can stick and freeze to metal.
- Warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife, who may
crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on
your car's hood to scare them away before starting your engine.
- The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate
the pads of your pet's feet and may be harmful if ingested. Wipe the
feet with a damp towel before your pet licks them to remove snow packed
between your pet's paws. Pet-friendly ice melts are available at many
pet supply stores across the nation or online.
- Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that can
attract animals and children. Wipe up spills and store antifreeze (and
all household chemicals) out of reach. Better yet, use
antifreeze-coolant made with propylene glycol, which is less toxic in
small amounts than traditional ethylene glycol antifreeze.
- No matter what the temperature, wind chill can threaten a pet's life.
A dog or cat is happiest and healthiest when kept indoors. If your dog
spends significant time outdoors, however, he/she must be protected by a
dry, draft-free doghouse that is large enough to allow the dog to sit
and lie down comfortably, but small enough to hold in his/her body heat.
The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with
cedar shavings or straw. The house should be turned to face away from
the wind, and the doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or
- If you're feeding homeless cats, be sure to provide an insulated
shelter for them. Information about building a shelter, spaying and
neutering and more is available at humanesociety.org/feralcats.
The best prescription
for winter's woes is to keep your dog or cat inside with you and your
family. The happiest dogs are those who are taken out frequently for
walks and exercise but kept inside the rest of the time. Dogs and cats
are social animals who crave human companionship. Your animal
companions deserve to live indoors with you and your family.