Fall is Calling: Cold Weather and Your Pets

puppy in a pumpkin with fall leavesCrisp autumn weather is a welcome respite after the heat of summer and before winter’s chill.  With your pets in mind, fall is also a good time to make preparations around your home and yard.

Northern breeds like Huskies and Malamutes are well suited to cold weather, but the majority of dogs need protection from the elements.  After all, what pet would want to be left alone outside?  Cold weather can be not only uncomfortable but downright dangerous.  Just like us, pets can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite. 

As stated by nationally renowned veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and pet care author Gina Spadafori in a recent article:  “We don't agree with the practice of keeping dogs and cats outdoors all their lives -- these pets are often lonely and bored, and are more likely to be suffering from physical neglect.”

Hale Pet Doors allow dogs and cats to stay in the security and warmth of their homes, while having access to the yard as needed. 

Here are a few tips for your pets as the days get colder:

  • If your pet is active and outside a lot (and does not have any weight issues), you may need to increase his food.  Food is fuel, and the extra calories go toward maintaining body warmth.
  • But if your pet is almost always indoors and is a couch potato in the winter, less food may be called for.  This is especially true for dogs with arthritis.  Keeping excess weight off your dog will help his aching joints.
  • Speaking of arthritis, cold weather can increase a dog’s aches and pains.  Talk to your vet about joint supplements and pain relievers.
  • Inside the home, provide your pet a warm sleeping area away from drafts.
  • Forced air heat can dry out your home.  For your pet’s benefit – and yours too – adding a little moisture to the air with a humidifier is an excellent idea.
  • Short-haired breeds, small dogs and even elderly dogs often need an extra coat other than the one Mother Nature gave them.  A sweater or fleece jacket for pets can help keep them keep warm (and make them look darn cute too!)
  • Help your dog’s paw pads by keeping the hair trimmed, which will keep ice and snow from balling up.  Check his paw pads for small cuts and cracks.  Clean his pads if he has walked on salt or snow-removal chemicals, which can be toxic to pets. Consider buying dog boots if needed.
  • Puppies and senior dogs are very susceptible to the effects of cold.  Don’t have them stay outside for long during play time or potty breaks.
  • Clean up antifreeze spills immediately.  Dogs are attracted to its sweet taste, and ingesting it can be toxic.  If you suspect your dog has licked antifreeze, take him to the vet immediately.  There may be time for Antizol-Vet, an antifreeze antidote, to help your dog.  Also, consider using an animal-friendly anti-freeze.
  • If your cat is allowed in the garage use extra caution before starting your car.  Cats will seem the warmth of the engine so be sure to knock on the hood or honk the horn to scare them off.
  • Don’t leave pets alone in the car for a length of time during cold weather.  With the engine off, a car can act as a refrigerator and hold in the cold.
  • Provide proper shelter and fresh water for when you pet is enjoying his yard. 

Have fun this fall!  Enjoy the crisp mornings and chilly afternoons with your pet.  He can run in the bright autumn leaves and watch the first flakes of snow drift down before walking back through his Hale Pet Door and into the warm glow of his beloved home.

by Jen Munch, Rescue Rewards Coordinator, Hale Pet Door