With dangerous weather approaching, it is important to keep in mind that if it is too cold for you to be outside, then it is too cold for your pets as well.
Animals should stay inside as much as possible during winter months, especially during times of frigid weather, to protect them from the cold, according to the Humane Society of Greater Dayton. If they must stay outside, they need proper shelter with dry bedding, food and water that is not frozen.
If you’ve witnessed any animal that’s been outside for extended hours and is not protected, call the humane society’s cruelty/neglect hotline at 855-738-7911. For dogs left outside, you also can call the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center at 937-898-4457.
- Battle cold weather: Take pets inside with the exception of periods of exercise, which will protect them from the winter elements. Consider dressing your pet in a sweater or coat for outdoor activities, which will help them retain their body heat and prevent their skin from drying out. Whenever your pet goes outside, you also need to protect their paws as much as possible. Booties can help lower their exposure to painful salt crystals and other ice-melting elements. If booties aren’t an option, try rubbing petroleum jelly into the pads of their paws before going out. This will protect your pet from salts and other chemicals. When you bring them inside, wipe their paws off with a dry towel and pay attention to the spaces between their toes.
- Provide shelter: If your pet must be outside, provide them with well-equipped shelter. You want shelter that's dry, draft-free and large enough for them to turn around, sit and lie down comfortably.
- Keep pets nourished: Pets tend to use more energy in the winter months to stay warm, so make sure to feed them a little more food and give them plenty of water. This will help them produce the energy they need to stay warmer and will keep them hydrated, which will help moisturize their skin. Routinely check your pet’s water dish to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen.
- Bang the car hood: Warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife, which may crawl up under the hood for warmth. To avoid injuries, bang on your car’s hood to scare them away before starting your engine.
- Groom your pets: Animals with longer coats tend to have issues with salt crystals, snow balls or de-icing chemicals clinging to their fur, which can dry their skin out. Keep fur trimmed to help prevent this, and don’t forget to clip the hair between their paws. Brushing your pet frequently can also stimulate their blood circulation, which improves their overall skin condition. Limit the number of baths you give your pet during winter months, as washing too often can remove the essential oils they need to keep their skin healthy.
- Avoid salt and chemicals: Keep paws free of salt and other chemicals by wiping their feet with a damp towel before they lick them and irritate their mouth. Salt and chemicals used to melt snow and ice can also irritate the pads of their feet.
- Keep antifreeze out of reach: Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that may attract animals. Wipe up any spills and store antifreeze where it can’t be accessed.