Early morning and evening temperatures are starting to drop to freezing and you need to consider some important reminders if you have pets. Dogs and cats have fur, but that doesn’t keep them warm when temperatures drop significantly. We do not recommend leaving your pets outside for extended periods of time during the cold winter months, especially not puppies. Dogs and cats experience hot and cold just like humans. If you are cold and shivering and need to go inside, they probably do too. That being said, Northern Nevada is an active community and we love to take our dogs outside out with us and let our cats run free sometimes. Here are a few things to consider when exercising or leaving your pet outside.
It seems to be all the fashion these days to dress your dog up in sweaters, coats and other canine clothing. Specific types of dogs like toy or small dogs, old or sick dogs, and short haired dogs can get colder faster and would benefit from the extra warmth. While this may work to help keep them warm while outside for a short period of time, be careful to not assume this is the answer to keep them warm if they are outside all day. A sweater covers their body, but your pet will lose most of their body heat from their feet, ears and respiratory tract. Dogs and cats can still experience frostbite and hypothermia from being outside in the cold and wet too long. Frostbite can be more difficult to notice, but if you see ice forming on your pet, their ear tips or tail tips appear white, gray or red get them inside in a warm bath or wrap in warm blankets. Do not rub the ice off them, let it melt in the warm water. Hypothermia is caused when your pet cannot keep their body temperature normal, and is caused by being exposed to cold temperatures for too long. Your dog will shiver, become lethargic, muscles will stiffen, and heart rate and breathing decreases. If your pet suffers from either of these conditions it is important you take them to your vet right away.
If your family pet will be spending a long period of time outside consider additional shelter. A dog house should be insulated and have warm bedding for your dog. A great option is to provide a lift off the ground for the dog bed to avoid moisture getting in from the ground. As snow rises it could melt inside of the dog house and on the bedding. Bedding retains moisture so the blankets should be checked regularly to keep them dry and your dog warm.
The indoor accommodations for your pet are equally important. They should have bedding or beds that are kept away from drafty areas. For smaller and older pets or dogs with arthritis you can invest in a heated dog bed to help keep them comfortable. Their water should be fresh each day and leave plenty of toys to occupy them during the long winter days. Pets can make some of the best cuddlers, which helps keep you both warm.
Dogs and cats should both have fresh non-iced water to drink from if you leave it outside. Changing the water twice a day with warm water, keep it in the sun, and sheltered from the wind, to help it from freezing. Another option is to purchase heated water bowls, available at pet stores and online.
No matter what the weather, we know you love your furry family so thank you for giving them the best home possible, with lots of love.