While some animals may bask in a bitter winter day, others would tell their owners how cold they are, if they could.
Canine Advocates of Newtown President Virginia Jess agrees that some dogs may love the cold, “but not all,” she said. She has noticed her own dog’s discomfort. Of her 40-pound sheltie-collie mix, she said, “I know that when we walk our dog in the snow, she would pick up her feet and I would wipe them off, the salt gets in there.” She also warns, “Animals can get frostbite, too.”
Ms Jess keeps a towel with her as she walks the dog.
“You need something to keep the snow out from between their paws and to keep out the salt and sand.” She has also purchased products that can help protect dog’s paws, which she recommends.
Your Healthy Pet owner Mary Kay Novak also had recommendations.
“There are things like booties to keep paws dry,” she said. Ms Novak also mentioned a petroleum product called Musher’s Secret, which is a wax that goes on pads of dogs’ paws to protect from ice. She also carries Paw Safe, which does not keep paws warm, but it keeps dogs safe from ice melt products. Although labeling may indicate something is safe on paws, dogs will lick their paws “and the product could be pretty dangerous,” she said.
A dog’s snout can also be vulnerable in the winter.
“Some dogs’ noses get really dry, and there are things you can use to treat that,” she said.
Pet owners also need to be aware of when their dog is showing signs of discomfort.
“Sometimes when our dogs go out and it’s frigid, they lift a paw up and they look injured. I realized their paw was extremely cold,” Ms Novak said. “If they do that, then you know it’s just too cold.”
Her dogs also shiver.
“Even though some people believe dogs are meant to be out in the cold, some dogs just don’t have a lot of fur,” said Ms Novak. And, many pets are accustomed to being inside.
Monica Roberto, founder of The Animal Center , also shared her thoughts.
“Companion animals may have more hair covering their bodies than we do, but they get can frostbite just like we can,” she said. “As far as felines go, there’s no reason that cats should be let outside in this weather.”
Thinking of house cats, she said they “don’t want to be out in freezing temperatures and you’re taking the chance they can get frostbite or find their way into someone’s open garage for protection and get trapped in there.” Worse, a cat might try to get under the hood of a car seeking warmth from the engine, where it could later end up injured or killed, she warned.
Regarding feral cats she said, “Ideally anyone caring for them will have already put out a winter shelter that provides protection from the elements and hay or straw bedding.” Anyone needing feral cat shelters can contact The Animal Center by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The ASPCA also offers tips for keeping companion animals safe in the cold. Advice includes: “Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. Dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.”
The website also reminds pet owners not to leave a dog or cat in the car. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, according to the website, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.