Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Pets and Extreme Cold Weather

The cold weather we've been experiencing the last few days has been on the extreme side, so much so that we need to think about the vulnerability of our pets. Pets are extremely sensitive to the cold temperatures and need to be protected.

We often think our pets are immune to the frigid temperatures because they are an animal and usually have some type of fur coat, but that is simply not the case. Fur does provide some insulation, but it's not enough to prevent frostbite or hypothermia.  Without proper shelter and care, most animals will not survive extreme temperatures for an extended period of time. 

Keep an eye on the temperature. When it falls below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, it's best to keep your pet indoors. Short-haired dogs and puppies should be kept indoors when the temperature dips below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Regularly check your pet's outside water dish to make sure the water is not frozen. Animals can't burn calories without a fresh supply of water and, if they can't burn calories, they'll get cold.

Provide a dry, draft-free doghouse if you must keep your dog outside for any period of time. It should be large enough to allow your dog to sit and lay down comfortably, but small enough to hold in its body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The doghouse should be turned to face away from the wind and the doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic. If your pet is in a pen, you might block the wind and water with bales of straw and stretch canvas over the top of the pen. Bring your pet inside if the wind chill really dips or other weather conditions become severe

Use a damp towel to wipe your pet's feet and underside. Ice-melting chemicals can irritate and burn the pads of your pet's feet and can cause serious injury if ingested. Another way to protect your dog's feet is to spray the pads of its feet with cooking oil or purchase boots for your pet.

Keep your pet's coat well groomed. Matted fur won't properly protect your pet from the cold.

If you see an animal outside for an extended period of time during the extreme cold, and don't see any type of protective shelter in place, please call the Overland Park Animal Control Unit at 913-895-6300.