Tips to keep your pet safe in cold temperatures - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Tips to keep your pet safe in cold temperatures


MADISON (WKOW) --- Cold weather can be dangerous for your pet.

"Animals can suffer from hypothermia, frostbite and other cold weather injuries, and harsh conditions can weaken their immune systems, leaving them vulnerable to illness," says Gayle Viney, Public Relations Coordinator for DCHS.


7 Cold Weather Tips for Pets*:


  1. 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.


  1. Never let your dog off 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 microchipped).


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from drafts. 


  1. Be prepared.  Cold Weather also brings the risks of severe winter weather, blizzards and power outages.  Prepare a disaster/emergency kit, and include your pet in your plans.  Have enough food, water and medicine (including prescription medications as well as heartworm and flea/tick preventatives) on hand to get through at least 5 days.



"Don't leave pets outdoors when the temperature drops," says Viney, "only take them out for shortened bathroom breaks and supervised exercise."  Shorthaired, very young or old dogs and all cats should never be left outside without supervision.  "No matter what the temperature, wind chill can threaten a pet's life," says Viney. 


Animals can be outside for short intervals, but make sure to pay attention to signs that they are getting too cold. Some signs include: shivering, whimpering, repeated lifting of paws, and lethargy.  


Owners should also purchase a sweater or jacket for their short-haired dog. Fleece coats often make the best choice, as they are lightweight and slim, and offer superior warmth and insulation.  Dogs and cats may have their very own fur coats, but that doesn't mean that their bodies can handle extreme cold, snow, and ice. 


"You wouldn't go outside without proper gear in the winter, so don't send your pets out unprepared either," says Viney.


The same precautions are being taken at DCHS. Walk times for dogs have been shortened and coats have been provided to each dog in need of one.   


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