Cold weather safety
Thursday, December 15, 2016 | NHS Staff
The best option is simply allowing your pets indoors during cold weather. Older pets and babies should come in when temperatures dip to 40 degrees. At 20 degrees, everyone should come in!
If this is not an option, here are some helpful tips:
- Dog houses should be solid wood structures with a flap on the opening. Plastic kennels do not keep the cold air out.
- The flap to the dog house should face away from the wind.
- Straw or hay provides warmth in doghouses. Do not use blankets as they become wet and can freeze—effectively turning your dog house into an ice box.
- Water bowls freeze during cold weather. Heated water bowls are a necessity in below freezing temperatures.
- Keeping animals dry and out of the wind is crucial to conserve body heat.
In the Metro, Animal Control can take action:
- If there is no shelter, if the dog can’t get to the shelter, or if the shelter is not adequate for the dog to enter, circle around and curl up.
- If there is not fresh unfrozen water or adequate food.
- If the animal has early signs of hypothermia: depressed body position, uncontrolled shivering or appears to be in distress.
- Citizens can call the Nebraska Humane Society at 402-444-7800, Ext. 1, if they suspect an animal is suffering in the cold weather.
If your pet is used to going outside for play or walks, you should monitor his time outside.
- Ears and toes are susceptible to frost bite, so pay special attention to these areas.
- When walking…ice can build up between toes, so if you see your pet favoring a foot, stop and clean off the bottom, or hold the foot in your warm mitten to melt the ice.
- Better yet, bring a towel on walks to clean off stinging, irritated paws.
- After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet and stomach to remove ice, salt and chemicals—and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes.
- Don’t forget water! Your pet needs fresh (unfrozen) water to process food and burn calories to stay warm.
- Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. If your dog is long-haired, simply trim him to minimize the clinging ice balls, salt crystals and de-icing chemicals that can dry his skin, and don’t neglect the hair between his toes.
- If your dog is short-haired, consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.
- Older pets and younger babies, dogs with little body fat and those with single coats are all more susceptible to cold weather issues. Use common sense and observe your pet. If he appears to be in distress, get him to a warm area.