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9 Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe in the Cold

The MSPCA offers some common sense rules to help avoid tragedy with your pets.

With temperatures below zero overnight and the cold expected to continue early this week, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) offers these tips to make sure your pets are kept safe during extreme winter conditions. 

  • Keep your pets warm and indoors. As always cats should stay inside. Since cats left outdoors may stay warm in car wheel wells or under hoods, you should awake any sleeping animals by wrapping on your car hood before starting the engine.
  • Trips outside should remain short during the winter months. While dogs need outdoor exercise, lengthy walks can prove harmful especially when wind chill is a factor.
  • Dogs should remain leashed and supervised when outdoors throughout the year. However in the winter do not bring them near bodies of water even if they appear frozen.
  • Shorthaired dogs such as Greyhounds, Beagles, Chihuahuas and clipped breeds should be dressed in protective clothing.
  • Wipe off your dog’s foot pads and stomach fur after returning from the outdoors.
  • Outdoor shelters for pets should be dry, secure from wind and only large enough for them to stand up, turn around and lie down. The shelter floor should also be elevated from ground level and have dry bedding. A steady water supply should be provided in plastic bowls and checked on so that it does not freeze.
  • Pets that spend a greater amount of time outdoors also require more food.
  • Antifreeze products containing ethylene glycol are highly toxic and can produce life-threatening kidney damage, even in small amounts. Many windshield washer products contain methanol, which if ingested can cause drooling, vomiting, drunkenness and severe central nervous system depression.
  • Ice melt products may contain ingredients that can be very irritating to the skin and gastrointestinal tract, and could also potentially result in more severe effects including depression, weakness, disorientation, low blood pressure, cardiac problems, seizures, coma and even death depending on the type of ice melt and circumstances of exposure.

Editor's note: This information was provided by the MSPCA.

Have any other tips for keeping your pet safe and comfy in the cold weather? Let us know in the comments.

Buseybee January 24, 2013 at 07:49 PM
Last night around midnight my dog wanted to go out. I let him out in the backyard as usual. Because it was only 6 degrees, I set my alarm for 5 minutes to bring him back in. When the alarm went off, I called him and usually he comes running. But, last night he did not. At first he just sat there on the ground, then he came to the porch steps, looked at me then turned around and when back to the grass to lay down. We went through this routing at least 5 times until finally I got dressed, went out, put him on his leash and he finally came with me. When we got in, he ran right for the front door wanting to go for a walk. Of course, because of the late hour and the cold, I couldn't do that. He finally laid down and went to sleep. What was I doing wrong? He's out again right now and it's only 19 degrees but he still won't come in for me. Is there something wrong? Could he be sick? Doesn't seem to be ill but why would he want to stay out in this frigid weather?

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