Cold Weather Tips for Pets

Record low temperatures are predicted this winter, which means that taking precautions to stay warm and dry are important to keeping healthy. This goes for your pets, too.

The Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recently released some tips for keeping pets safe, healthy and happy as the leaves stop turning and the snow starts falling.

One of the key elements to ensure your pet’s safety in the cold weather is “knowing your pet’s general limits,” said Dr. Joshua Tumulty, a specialist at Long Island Veterinary Specialists in Plainview.   For example, if you know that your pet is sensitive to the cold, do your best to keep them indoors as much as possible, he said.

LIR Photo Credit: Stephanie Impostato

LIR Photo Credit: Stephanie Impostato

Tumulty also advises that outdoor cats can hide under cars to find warmth. So check the whereabouts of your cat before starting up your car and driving away.

If you keep your dog outside, provide them with a shelter. But the NSPCA reminds dog owners that when the temperature drops below freezing, your pets should not be kept outside for long periods of time. Prolonged exposure could lead to frostbite.

As in any weather, pets can wander and get lost.

“Make sure your dog has identification and be aware that antifreeze is toxic to dogs and cats,” Tumulty said.

Animals also run the risk of ingesting other harmful contaminants such as snow melting products, which contain potassium chloride or carbamide.

If you do bring your pets outside during frigid temperatures, the NCSPCA suggests that you keep them bundled up with a sweater, jacket and even booties.

“I put sweaters on my dogs, which keeps them warm and prevents their fur from getting dirty,” says Ashley Bruno, a dog owner from Shirley.

And for extended walks near lakes or other waterways, keep all dogs on a leash to ensure they don’t slip on the ice or fall through.

Once indoors, provide a dry, warm place for your pets during the winter months and the NCSPCA urges dog owners to dry off their pets when they come in from a walk out in the snow. Take extra care to wipe their legs, paws and stomach, said a NCSPCA spokesman.

Being a pet owner is a responsibility one that they should take seriously to ensure they remain happy and healthy. “I leave a blanket in his crate for him to snuggle with,” says Lauren Blackmore, a dog owner from Wantagh.  “I also make sure my dog eats right everyday and does not stay outside too long.”