The winter storm Jonas is bringing severe snow and freezing cold to many areas of the country. With heavy snowfall and extreme temperatures, people need to take special care including of their animals. We shared what to do if you see an animal left in extreme cold for any extensive duration of time, including both stray or homeless animals as well as pets that belong to neighbors or within your community, and how you can help homeless animals and people.
As Jonas hits areas of the country, and everywhere there might be cold or snow, it’s also important to take extra care with your own animals. Even within short periods of time, animals of all kinds are as prone to frostbite, hypothermia, disorientation, and other issues during the cold. Many believe that the coats and bodies of our pets are designed to keep them warm but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Imagine it this way: If you went outside in a thin jacket and bare feet in subzero temperatures, with your nose and ears completely exposed, then sat there for even twenty minutes, you would be at a serious health risk! It is the same for pets of all kinds, including dogs, cats and other animals.
Here are a few tips for ensuring your pet’s health and safety during winter storms and other cold weather:
- Limit time outdoors. Your pet will generally let you know when it is ready to come indoors during potty breaks, but make it a point to also limit the time to ensure its safety. Avoid allowing cats out at night during severe weather to ensure they can get back into the house, as you may fall asleep before letting them in. We don’t encourage keeping dogs, cats or other pets outdoors at all times as many humans do with their pets. However, if you do have an animal that lives outdoors, bring it inside. Even a garage with a few warm blankets or a heater is better than being in pen or on a chain outside. If you aren’t able to bring it indoors, call a local rescue as it may be willing to shelter it temporarily for you. If your animal can’t absolutely be brought indoors or sheltered, make sure it has adequate, insulated shelter, beds, blankets and fresh food and water at all times during extreme weather. Check on its health and care frequently everyday.
- Keep close watch of your pets while outdoors. Monitor your animals while out on walks, in the backyard and anytime they’re outside during snow or extreme temperatures. They’ll often display signs like raising paws to remove them from cold ground, noses and ears will get very cold, or they may shiver — keep aware of the signs of when your pet is too cold to be outdoors, and bring it in immediately. Pet sweaters and coats can help add a layer to keep them warm, as well as paw pads, but still keep an eye on their behaviors to ensure they’re okay.
- Wipe paws and coat once you bring them indoors. Winter months can mean salt, anti-freeze and other chemicals on the ground and it can adhere to your pets paws, coat and other body parts. Once inside, they’ll often lick themselves clean as part of their regular grooming and care, and can ingest these chemicals if not careful. You can wipe down their bodies and particularly their paws, feet and legs to help prevent this. Pet coats and boots or paw pads can also help.
- Don’t forget indoor care. Dogs, cats and other animals can get cold indoors too. This is in particular for birds, fish, reptiles or other pets who have enclosures near doors or windows, as the cold can seep in. Move pets that require enclosures to more central areas of the home, though be careful of exposing them to too much heat. Generally, somewhere that feels comfortable for you — not too hot or too cold — can work for them. Cold, dry air can also affect pets so if you’re feeling dry indoor air affecting you, also consider its affect on your pets. As with humans, a humidifier can usually solve dryness issues.
You may find that your pet eats more, sleeps more or sheds more during extreme weather and temperatures. Monitor its behavior, but know that this may be normal and allow it to care for itself as it naturally knows how to do. Extra food intake can often give animals more calories to endure the cold weather, or they may want to drink more water due to dryness in the air. Watch for cues from them to signal what they need.
For many animals, you may not be sure how to care for them during the winter months, such as reptiles which often require special climate care. You can ask a veterinarian on Kuddly about this if you’re not sure. You can download Kuddly to your mobile device on iTunes or Android.