Most pet owners consider their pets to be a family member and want to provide them with the very best care and protection. Even for those living in warmer climates where extreme weather conditions are rare, it is important to take precautions during the winter months to protect animals.

Many people believe that dogs and other pets should remain outside at all times, even in cold temperatures. They do not understand that pets feel cold just as humans do. Many think that their fur will protect them against the elements, but the fact is that fur does not help them tolerate the cold. A little common sense should prevail when caring for animals when temperatures drop.

Bring Pets Indoors

Even if the temperature outside is only slightly below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, pets can suffer from adverse effects of the cold. All pets need the protection that the indoors provides especially those who are older or suffer from a medical condition. If it is too cold outside for the pet owner, it is too cold for the pet. They should stay indoors whenever possible and only go outside for breaks and short exercise periods.

Outdoor Dangers

It is important to limit exposure to the elements as much as possible during cold weather. Hypothermia is a real threat for animals without adequate shelter and proper care. Some signs that hypothermia may be occurring are shivering, whining, weakness, and extreme lethargy. The pet should be brought inside immediately to prevent illness or even death.

Frostbite is also a real problem for paws. It is important to check paws for snow or ice they may have been exposed to while walking. Short-haired dogs should not go outside without a sweater or coat to keep them warm. If they should get wet from the elements, make sure they are towel dried immediately. Salt or other winter chemicals can stick to a pet’s paws and cause cracks, redness, or irritation. Always wash and dry the paws after a walk.

Just as in hotter weather, consider the temperatures and steps you can take to protect your pets and prevent them from illness and injury.