Winter Pet Safety
Texas winters are unpredictable! When the temperature drops this winter, it is important to keep your pets safe and comfortable. We’ve listed some of the most common factors that you need to consider in the coming months:
Listen to Your Pet
A pet’s cold tolerance can vary based on their physical characteristics, such as the length of their coat, body fat stores, activity level, and general health. Be aware of your pet’s tolerance for cold weather, and adjust accordingly. You will probably need to shorten your dog’s walks in very cold weather to protect you both from weather-associated health risks. Long-haired or thick-coated dogs tend to be more cold-tolerant, but they are still at risk if left in the cold for an extended period of time. Short-haired pets feel the cold faster, and short-legged pets may become cold faster because their bellies and bodies are more likely to come into contact with snow-covered ground. The same goes for very young and very old pets. If you need help determining your pet’s temperature limits, consult your veterinarian.
Just like you, pets prefer comfortable sleeping places and may change their location based on their need for more or less warmth. Give them some safe options to allow them to vary their sleeping place to adjust to their needs.
Cats and dogs should be kept inside during cold weather. It’s a common belief that dogs and cats are more resistant than people to cold weather because of their fur, but this is untrue. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside whenever possible. Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather. If your pet must be outdoors for any length of time, he must be protected by a dry, draft-free shelter. Be sure that it is large enough to allow him to move comfortably, but small enough to hold in his body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches from the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic. Cats should not be left outdoors without shelter for extended periods, even if they roam outside during other seasons.
Because pets are more prone to be disoriented by cold weather (especially snow), it is a good idea to make certain that their microchip and ID tag information are up-to-date. If your pet doesn’t have a microchip or engraved ID tag, TCAP provides those services during our walk-in vaccine hours. You can check out our online calendar to see when you can bring your pet by a TCAP location anytime at: https://texasforthem.org/hours-locations/vaccinations/.