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Cold Weather Safety for Pets

Even Scoop, as fluffy as he is, needs protection from the cold winter temperatures!
Kip Tyner
Kip Tyner
Even Scoop, as fluffy as he is, needs protection from the cold winter temperatures!

The temperatures around here have been cool but not uncomfortable, especially if you keep a coat handy.  But that’s changing and the weather forecast includes some low nighttime temperatures – and predictions for this coming week show at least one day where it will be below freezing all day. 

     I admit I like it on the warmer side, so cold weather is uncomfortable for me.  But what about our pets?  After all, they are wearing fur coats.

It is true that an animal that spends most of its time outdoors in winter usually develops a short, dense undercoat that helps to insulate it from the effects of the cold.  But if you have a pet that lives inside most of the time, it will not develop that winter undercoat to protect it from cold weather.  So when your buddy goes outside to relieve itself, don't let it stay out very long

     Even if you have an outdoor pet, you may need to bring it inside as temperatures dip into the low twenties or below.  To keep it from having free run of the house, you may be able to confine it in a kitchen or laundry room for the night.  A basement or garage is another place where your outside pet may find refuge from the cold. Be sure to provide it with a bed of some sort so it is not sleeping on a cold, hard floor, and place it away from drafts.  And remember, even in the coldest temperatures, all animals (indoors and outside) need fresh unfrozen water to drink.

     Another caution - in cold weather, cats often seek refuge in the engine compartments of cars - they can get up off the ground, out of the wind, and may even find warmth if the car has been driven recently.  If cats have access to your vehicle, you can avoid a possible tragedy by banging your hand on the hood loudly several times, then waiting a minute before starting the engine.

     Keeping your furry friend safe and warm in cold weather should be at the top of your to-do list right now, when you’re speaking of pets.


Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.