Protecting your pet when temperatures are frigid

The frosty weather is also a threat to your pets. Local animal experts advise you 'put yourself in their paws', when it comes to your animal's care. The Toldeo Area Humane Society and Lucas County Dog Warden are answering triple the amount of calls regarding abuse and neglect cases. Thankfully though, most owners are showing their compassion and bringing their dogs indoors.

One urgent call came form a neighborhood off navarre in East Toledo. A Pit Bull, supposedly stuck outside without shelter, food or water. But when two deputy dog wardens showed up, the dog had been pulled in from the elements. Ann Connolly states the facts, "When it gets this cold I would say bring'em indoors." If you don't, it's your responsibility to provide food, water, and shelter. Connolly again, "They need to be able to get out of the wind. They need to be able to get inside where it's warm and dry, so if you can't provide that outdoors for them, you need to bring them in." Your pet can suffer the same ailments as we can, frostbite and dehydration, or worse, death.

There are serious consequences states John Dinon, Executive Director of the humane society. "We can definitely have people fined, have their animals confiscated, and even have them arrested for animal cruelty or animal abuse."

Aside from providing shelter, food and water here are some tips you can use to protect your pet.

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 its current dog license for identification.

  • Dogs with very short coats have the least tolerance for cold. Extremely short-coated breeds include Greyhounds, Dobermans, Boxers, Boston Terriers and Chihuahuas. These breeds shouldn't go outside without a sweater or a coat except for short times to relieve themselves.
  • Small dogs with short coats (such as Chihuahuas, miniature Pinschers, and miniature Dachshunds) are especially vulnerable to cold. They may not tolerate any outdoor exercise in extremely cold weather.
  • If your dog frequently lifts up his paws, whines or stops on his walks, his feet are uncomfortably cold.
  • Another frequently seen foot problem is the formation of iceballs between the pads and toes of the feet, especially in dogs with long fur. Once iceballs form, they are very painful, much like walking on rocks. When dogs get these, they often whine, stop walking and start chewing at the bottoms of their feet to remove the painful iceballs. To help prevent iceballs, trim hair around your dog's feet. Apply a small amount of Vaseline, cooking oil, or PAM spray to your dog's feet before taking him for a walk. Make sure you use oil that can be eaten; most dogs lick at their paws.
  • If your pet walks on salted sidewalks or streets, be sure to wash his paws after your walk. Salt is very irritating to footpads. Many dogs will quickly start whining and biting at their feet after just a few steps on salted roads. Gently rub the bottom of the feet to remove the salt as soon as your dog is off the road.
  • If your pet spends a lot of time outdoors, let him get acclimated gradually to dropping temperatures. Once a pet is acclimated to either warm or cold, a long dose of the other extreme is hard to take.
  • Outdoor pets need a sheltered place that is well bedded with dry straw, shavings, blanket strips or other insulating material that traps warm air. Also, remember that animals drag a lot of moisture into their bedding areas from snow, rain and mud. Check it often and change it whenever it is wet, or your pets can't keep themselves warm.