Frigid weather is not fit for man or beast. With the bomb cyclone blasting arctic temperatures, high winds gusting to almost 60 mph and dumping almost a foot of snow on the east coast, you need to protect your pets more than ever.
Animals left outside are at risk of hypothermia, frostbite, and even death.
Tragically, one pet owner in Hartford, Connecticut, is being charged with animal cruelty after leaving his pitbull to freeze to death in the backyard doghouse. According to police investigating the incident, the dog was left out in the cold for weeks. After a pipe burst in its basement home, it was relegated to the outside — unprotected against the harsh elements.
“The dog showed signs of hypothermia. As morbid as it is, the dog was frozen solid when the officers got it,” Deputy Chief Brian Foley told WTIC.
Our four-legged, furry friends feel the effects of winter weather as much as we do, only they are often left outside to weather the cold. There is a popular misconception that the fur on their backs will insulate them from suffering.
Putting a dog coat on may look cute, but it’s a temporary solution as it doesn’t cover their entire body and won’t insulate them for long periods of time in the cold.
The Humane Society of the United States urges pet owners to keep all animals indoors during cold weather. No dogs, regardless of their breed, should be left outdoors for long periods of time.
Even outdoor cats and horses need protection from the elements. Their thickened winter coats help feral and stray cats weather winter’s chill, but they still need warm, dry, well-insulated and appropriate-sized shelters.
HSUS says to give your horses access to unfrozen water at all times by using heated buckets or water heaters/de-icers to make sure the water doesn’t freeze. Feeding your horses more forage — unlimited amounts, if possible — during extreme cold will help your horses create heat and regulate their body temperatures.
“Dogs, cats, and horses depend on our care, especially during life-threatening cold snaps. Take the animals in, or somehow provide a safe environment for them,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of HSUS.
HSUS offers these simple guidelines to assure our pets are cozy and safe:
1. Keep your pets inside with you and your family. Under no circumstances should pet cats be left outdoors, even if they roam outside during other seasons. Dogs are happiest when taken out frequently for walks and exercise, but kept inside the rest of the time. Don’t leave pets outdoors when the temperature drops.
2. If your dog is outdoors much of the day for any reason, they must be protected by a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow them to move comfortably, but small enough to hold in body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches from the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.
3. No matter what the temperature is, windchill can threaten a pet’s life. Exposed skin on noses, ears and paw pads are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia during extreme cold snaps. During short walks, short-haired dogs often feel more comfortable wearing a sweater.
4. Dogs are at particular risk of salt poisoning in winter due to the rock salt used in many areas — often when licking it from their paws after a walk. Rock salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can also irritate the pads of your pet’s feet. Wipe all paws with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates their mouth.
As for humans, if you see something, say something. If you witness animals being left outside in the cold, contact your local law enforcement agency.
Knowing how to protect your pet from the frigid cold should warm your concerns. SHARE these tips with other pet owners so no furry friends are left behind.