As temperatures drop, don’t forget about your pets

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – It sounds like common sense: when it’s freezing outside, bring in your pets. But every year Karen Sheppard, Director of the Huntsville Animal Services, meets people who don’t have a clue.

“A lot of people think because dogs and cats have fur they aren’t in any way affected by the weather. No. They get cold just like we do,” said Sheppard.

Every winter, animal services finds dogs frozen to death, and others suffering from frostbite on their ears and paws.

So when is it too cold for your pet? Sheppard says when temperatures dip below freezing.

“When it becomes bitter, those pets need to have an indoor opportunity during those times,” said Sheppard. “That can mean a garage, or ideally into your home.”

The pets most susceptible to the cold will be young, old, or ill. Also small, skinny dogs and cats that don’t have a lot of fat.

“They’re going to struggle. even an hour or so may put them in harms way.”

Sheppard admits, some animals seemingly love their freedom outdoors no matter what the temperature. If you struggle to get your pet indoors, Sheppard says they may be okay, as long as they are in great health, have a thick layer of fur and fat, ample foot to eat, and a place to seek shelter – like a shed, dog house, or under your home.

Of course, indoors is always the safest bet.

Some other tips, from the ASPCA include:

  • If you have outdoor cats in your neighborhood, knock on the hood of your car before starting the engine. Some cats like to sleep under the hoods when it’s cold.
  • Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a storm.
  • Wipe off your dog’s legs and stomach when it comes in out of sleet, snow or ice so they don’t ingest salt or other ice-melting chemicals.
  • If you own a short-haired breed, buy them a coat for when they have to go outdoors.


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