Pet owners make mistakes regarding the safety of their animals in winter — especially those who have never owned one before. This is in part because of ignorance and misconception, and in part because of oversight. We tend to believe our pets are more suited to the outdoors than we are, especially in colder weather, but this isn’t necessarily supported by the facts.
Rhea County Animal Control Officer Cheyenne Swafford said, “Cats and dogs should be kept inside during cold weather. It’s a common belief that dogs and cats are more resistant to weather because of their fur, but it’s untrue. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside.”
That doesn’t mean you can’t walk your pet or allow it outside to use the natural facilities. It only means that time spent outside should be severely limited, dependent on several factors like age, health, breed, etc.
Swafford continued, “You will probably need to shorten your dog’s walks in very cold weather to protect you both from weather-associated health risks. Arthritic and elderly pets may have more difficulty walking on snow and ice and may be more prone to slipping and falling.”
And don’t assume that a long-haired pet is immune to the cold weather. They have an extra layer of protection, but that’s not enough to protect them from sub-zero temperatures.
“Short-haired pets feel the cold faster because they have less protection,” Swafford explained. “Short-legged pets may become colder faster because their bellies and bodies are more likely to come into contact with snow-covered ground.”
Health is also important. Just like their human owners, some pets have diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease — all of which make them less likely to fare well when outside for long periods of time in colder weather. It’s important to take care of your beloved pets!