This season has already been one of the most snow-filled winters several eastern states have experienced in years. As the temperature drops and rises, everyone needs to ensure that their furry friends are as comfortable and adjusted to the warm indoor temps as humans.
Dogs can get frostbite and hypothermia just like people can. Your dog only has one type of jacket and can’t just grab an insulated sub-zero temperature protection parka on his way out the door. This time of year can be very dangerous for any dog left out in the cold for extended periods of time.
There are a few key things to remember when putting your dog outside.
- Dogs Need Shelter. Don’t leave your dog outside any longer than you would want to be out, unless your dog has a warm place to be. If a dog doesn’t have shelter (preferably one that is slightly raised off of the ground), his survival instincts will kick in and he will search for a warm place, such as a hole in a snow bank or under a porch. These places that appear to be safe from the cold leave your pooch in danger of being trapped in. Consider a dog igloo with a heated pet pad for dogs that enjoy being outdoors, even in the cold.
- Dogs Need Clean Water. The winter can be a dry time and just like us, your pets need access to water to stay hydrated. It’s easy to forget that a regular water bowl may freeze when left outside. Heated pet waterers work wonders for keeping your dog's bowl ice and snow free. If your pet has to search for water, he may end up drinking from a puddle that is contaminated with anti-freeze or oil. Drinking anti-freeze, even a small amount, can be life threatening for an animal.
- Dogs Need to be Groomed. Dogs’ paws can become chapped or burned by road salts and ice. Use warm water or a warm washcloth to clean your dog’s feet when he returns from being outdoors. Keep your pet’s coat brushed and free of mats. Matted hair provides less protection from the cold.
Use your common sense when it comes to keeping your dog safe during the cold winter months. The temperature, the thickness of your dog’s coat, how used to the outdoors he is, and the outdoor accommodations are all important factors to consider when determining how long your dog can be left outside.
Your neighbors are likely to report you if your dog is outside too long. The number of animal abuse calls rises significantly in the winter and are often related to dogs being left out in the snow. Don’t give your neighbors cause to worry, and make sure your pet is well cared for by taking him inside and providing warm outdoor shelter.