Buddy & Porky’s Pet Health: Is It Too Cold Outside?

Dear Porky and Buddy,

I just looked at the outdoor thermometer and it’s 10 degrees. My adopted boxer mix is crossing his legs and begging me to just this once not make him go outside to do his business and my elderly cat won’t come out from under the covers. Are there any special things I should know about taking care of my pets when it gets this cold. I love being outside in this weather, but I also know how to open the door and let myself back in.


Dear Joe,

Whether you think this weather is horrible or wonderful or both, it does present some special challenges for pet owners. Most of the basic rules for keeping your pets safe and healthy in winter are just plain common sense.

· If you can, keep your cat inside. Cats left outdoors in this weather can freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed. If your cats do go outside, make sure that you monitor how long they are out and get them back in.

· During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If your cat or other cats in your area are outdoors, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.

· 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.

· Carefully wipe off your dog’s paws, legs, and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.

· Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk. Because you own a short-haired breed, consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. This can be your best chance to make a fashion statement.

· Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.

· Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may want to consider paper-training him inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself and bring him right back in.

· Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him—and his fur—in tip-top shape.

· Antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.

· Make sure your pet has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect. And in our opinion, your bed is even better!

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter assistance, information and referral, adoption assistance to pet owners, humane education programs, foster care and adoption for pets in urgent need, assistance with lost and found pets. Our administrative offices and spay/neuter clinic are located at 265 West First Street, Oswego, New York. Check our web site at www.oswegohumane.org or call (315) 207-1070 for more information or to be placed on our mailing list for our newsletter