The cold weather is coming...really (even though it's been unseasonably warm so far this season at least in St. Louis!). And although we tend to be much more concerned about excessively hot temperatures, extremely cold temperatures can also be quite dangerous for pets. Please continue reading for some important considerations for all pets...both indoor & out.
For pets that spend a substantial amount of time outside, subzero temperatures are problematic (this includes all pets, even the "Northern" breeds like huskies & Malamutes, especially those living in this area as they are simply not acclimated to prolonged periods in such extreme cold). The last time our pets were exposed to it for any length of time was last winter. Please bring these pets inside..at least to a garage or shed (dogproofed of course to remove any potentially dangerous items). Warm bedding should be available as well as fresh, non frozen water at all times. And remember, even if the temperatuer isn't subzero, the wind can certainly make it feel as such. Providing pets shelter from the wind is also important.
Some cats may try to find shelter in and/or around cars during this time. If you keep your car outside, prior to starting the engine pound on the hood a couple of times to hopefully scare any hiding critters away.
Cold temperatures can also be problematic for our typically inside dogs as the switch to outdoors for potty breaks or exercise is a dramatic change from the warm indoor environment. For short haired dogs, puppies, or the elderly, consider putting on a sweater or coat prior to going outside. When they do come inside, check their feet for iceballs clinging to their hair, wet fur and/or a wet sweater.
Dogs with arthritis may find the cold weather has even more challenges. Not only do they have the temperature change to deal with, but they may also have difficulty navigating around icy patches, snow, etc. Please try to ensure they have a clear path with good traction and monitor them for signs of discomfort. If there is still ice even after shoveling, pet safe ice salt can be purchased, but if not available clay kitty litter can even be sprinkled down. Special booties for traction can also be purchased if your pet will wear them.
Never leave your pets outside for more than a few minutes at a time in subzero weather. Although they can likely tolerate a bit more time in temperatures that are above zero but below the 32 degrees freezing mark, they should still be monitored closely. This is definitely not the time you want your pet wandering off!
Another consideration during cold weather is antifreeze. Antifreeze is extremely toxic to pets if ingested. And since it doesn't have a bad, bitter taste, some pets find it quite palatable. If consumed, the toxin in antifreeze (ethylene glycol) can cause kidney failure. So be sure to keep containers sealed tight & out of reach from pets (as well as kids) and should any spill or leak, clean it up immediately. Should you suspect your pet did ingest some, call your veterinarian immediately for further instructions. (Should your veterinarian be closed, call or visit a poison control hotline such as the ASPCA or Pet Poison Helpline or the closest animal emergency center. Please note that a fee may apply if actually consulting the hotline.) As you can see, it's not just hot weather that has its hazards for our pets. Please let us know if you have questions or need more information!