APA of Missouri Urges Residents to Bring Pets Inside Due to Dangerously Cold Weather

The National Weather Service has issued a Wind Chill Watch and Winter Storm Watch starting Thursday, December 22. There is potential for wind gusts up to 50 mph. Just like humans, pets can develop hypothermia.

Take a look at these handy tips from the American Veterinary Medical Foundation experts to help protect your pets this week. First, and foremost, please bring your pets inside.

1. Know Your Pet’s Limits
Like you, your pet’s tolerance to the cold can vary based on a number of factors, including coat, body fat, activity level and health. Be mindful of your pet’s ability to tolerate temperatures and adjust accordingly. In extremely cold weather, shorten walks and time spent outside.

2. Check the Paws
Check paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage, such as cracked paws or bleeding. After walks, wipe paws to remove chemicals or irritants, such as ice melt and other deicers.

3. Bring Your Pets Inside
The best thing you can do for your cat or dog during the cold weather is to keep them indoors. It is a common belief that dogs and cats are more resistant to cold weather because of their fur, but that is not true. Cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia, just like humans, and long-term exposure to extreme cold can cause injury and death.

4. Play Dress-Up
If you dog has a short coat or seems bothered by the cold weather, consider a sweater or a dog coat. Be sure to use a dry sweater or coat each time you go outside. Wet sweaters or coats can make your dog even colder. Some pet’s owners even use booties to protect their dogs paws. If using these, make sure they fit properly.

5. Provide Appropriate Shelter
It is not recommended to leave any pet outside for long periods of time, but if your pet cannot be brought inside during cold weather, provide them with a warm, dry, solid shelter against the wind. The floor of the shelter should be off the ground to minimize heat loss and bedding should be thick, dry and changed regularly. Straw is highly recommended. They should have unlimited access to fresh, non-frozen water at all times.

6. Make Some Noise
A warm vehicle engine can be an appealing heat source for outdoor and feral cats, but it can be deadly. Check under your car, bang on your hood, or honk your horn before starting the engine to encourage cats (or critters) to abandon their roost under the hood.