How To Help Your Pet Weather The Arctic Chill
As foretold by the prophets Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé in November, baby, it's cold outside (for swaths of the eastern U.S., anyway). And though your dog or cat has a lush furry coat - barring a few notable exceptions - they're apt to love these freezing temperatures about as much as you do. Fur alone does not a polar bear make, and rescue groups from Atlanta to Chicago have saved dogs and cats from this chilly spell.
Plenty of dogs are touched with the winter spirit, but it's best to pay close attention to how much time animals spend in frigid temperatures. As Michael San Filippo, a spokesman for the American Veterinary Medical Association, told The Dodo, dogs like huskies may be more tolerant of the cold. "But if it's cold out for you in your coat," he said, "it's probably going to be cold for your dog as well."
It's still important for dogs to get fresh air and exercise, but limit exposure time, San Filippo said. Small games of inside fetch, for example, could help offset less outdoor activity. And when out in the cold, if pets are comfortable wearing them, coats and boots are a boon. (Your vet can help you make sure booties are properly fitted, according to the AVMA.) Pay special attention to pets near slippery ice, and be sure to leash dogs near frozen lakes or ponds.
Check tires, too, for sleeping cats:
On the way inside, San Filippo recommended examining unbootied paws for antifreeze irritation or rock salt caught between pads. Indoors, warm spots, perhaps augmented by space heaters (provided the devices are out of reach of a wagging tail or inquisitive paw) can help ensure dogs, cats and other pets aren't too cold. And, per the ASPCA's advice, even the toughest tomcats should be kept indoors during the winter.
For more chilly weather tips for keeping a pet warm and happy, check out the AVMA's website.