As we reach subzero temperatures in the Miami Valley it is important to keep your pets safe in the cold. Remember, if it is too cold for you to be outside then it is too cold for your pets. The Humane Society of Greater Dayton recommends all animals should remain indoors as much as possible during the colder months to protect them from the harsh and bitterly cold elements. If your animals must stay outdoors, then they need to have proper shelter, food and fresh water to protect them from the cold.
If you have witnessed any animal that has been outdoors for an extended period of time and who is not protected from the winter elements please call the Humane Society’s cruelty/neglect hotline at (855) PETS-911 or (855) 738-7911 or file a report online. For all dogs left outdoors, you can also call the Animal Resource Center at (937) 898-4457. Let’s work together to keep all of our pets safe and warm this winter season!
Protect from Cold
Take pets inside with the exception of periods of exercise. This will protect them from the winter elements. For outdoor activities, consider dressing your pet in a sweater or coat to help them retain their body heat and also prevent their skin from drying out. Whenever your pets go outdoors, you need to also protect their paws as much as possible. Booties can help lower your pet’s exposure to painful salt crystals and other ice-melting elements. If booties aren’t an option, try rubbing petroleum jelly into the pads of your pet’s paws before you go out. This will protect your pet from salts and other chemicals. When you bring them indoors wipe off their paws with a dry towel immediately, making sure to pay attention to between their toes.
Provide Proper Shelter
If your pet must be outdoors, provide them with the proper shelter. You want a shelter that is dry, draft-free and large enough for your pet to turn around, sit and lie down comfortably. Make sure that it is not too big though. If you have a small dog, you don’t want a large shelter because it will be harder for them to stay warm inside. Do not put blankets in your pet's shelter. These can easily absorb moisture and freeze quickly, which can cause more damage than good to your pet. Instead, use straw to insulate your shelter. It stays dry, provides comfortable bedding and helps to insulate the shelter to keep your pets warm.
Feed Your Pets More
Did you know that in the winter months pets tend to use more energy to stay warm? Make sure to feed your pets a little more food during the winter and give them plenty of fresh, clean water. The extra food and water will help them produce the energy they need to stay warmer and will keep them hydrated, which will help moisturize their skin. With temperature so low, water freezes quickly. Routinely check your pet's water dish to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen.
Avoid Salt and Chemicals
Keep your pet’s paws free of salt and other winter chemicals. The salt and chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet's feet. When you come inside, wipe your pet’s feet with a towel before they lick them. These chemicals can irritate your pet’s mouth. We recommend using pet-friendly salts to melt ice outside of your home. Many stores sell pet-friendly options that help keep pets safe while also removing the ice.
Keep Pets Groomed
Animals with longer coats tend to have issues with salt crystals, snow balls or even de-icing chemicals clinging to their fur, which can dry your pet’s skin out. Keep fur trimmed to stop some of this from collecting on your pet. Don’t forget to also clip the hair between their paws. By also brushing your pet frequently, you can stimulate blood circulation, which improves your pet’s overall skin condition. You do however want to also limit the number of baths you give your pets during the winter months. Washing too often can remove the essential oils your pets need to keep their skin healthy. Your vet can recommend a good moisturizing shampoo or rinse for you to use on your pets to help their skin.
Do you have a question for Brian? E-mail him at AskBrian@hsdayton.org. Brian Weltge is the President and CEO of the Humane Society of Greater Dayton. The Humane Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to building loving relationships between people and pets. Founded 113 years ago, it is the largest and most established “no-kill” animal welfare agency in the area. It focuses on pet adoptions, eliminating pet overpopulation, providing education and ensuring the humane treatment of animals. For more information about the Humane Society of Greater Dayton, call 937- 268-PETS (7387) or visit www.hsdayton.org.