Cold weather tips for pets - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Cold weather tips for pets


MADISON (WKOW) -- This week we may not see any bitter cold temperatures, but the temps are sure to drop again this winter, so it's important to keep an eye on your pets during those extreme weather conditions.

Dane County Humane Society urges pet owners to take extra precautions to ensure the safety of their companion animals. 

Gayle Viney, Public Relations Coordinator for DCHS says the bitter cold can pose serious health risks to family pets. 

"Animals can suffer from hypothermia, frostbite and other cold weather injuries, and harsh conditions can weaken their immune systems, leaving them vulnerable to illness," Viney said.

Viney says you should never leave pets outdoors when the temperature drops and shorthaired, very young or old dogs and all cats should never be left outside without supervision.

"Only take them out for shortened bathroom breaks and supervised exercise," Viney said. "No matter what the temperature, wind chill can threaten a pet's life." 

Viney says animals can be outside for short intervals, but you make sure to pay attention to signs that they are getting too cold. She says some signs include: shivering, whimpering, repeated lifting of paws, and lethargy.  

According to Viney, owners should also purchase a sweater or jacket for their short-haired dog.
She says although dogs and cats may have their own fur coats, that doesn't mean that their bodies can handle extreme cold, snow, and ice. Viney says fleece coats often make the best choice, as they are lightweight and slim, and offer superior warmth and insulation. 
"You wouldn't go outside without proper gear in the winter, so don't send your pets out unprepared either," Viney said.
Viney says the same precautions are being taken at DCHS. She says walk times for dogs have been shortened and coats have been provided to each dog in need of one.   
Some other tips from DCHS include:
  • During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hood of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.
  • Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm, dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags and is micro chipped.
  • Thoroughly wipe off your dog's legs and stomach when they come in out of the sleet, snow or ice. They can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking their paws, and their paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.
  • Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
  • Antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.
  • Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from drafts. 
For some other tips check out the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' website.
Viney joins us on Monday on 27 News at 5 to give some cold weather tips for pets.
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