Human beings aren't the the only creatures at risk when temperatures and wind chills dip below the freezing mark—pets can also fall victim to the elements.
Pet owners are encouraged to keep to keep their animals indoors when freezing temps hit, and to always monitor pets' exposure to the elements. The Prince George's County Animal Management Division also offers the following cold-weather tips for animal owners:
- Keep kittens and puppies under six months, and small or short-haired dogs inside
- Increase the amount of their food; outdoor dogs need more calories in the winter to produce body heat
- Never let your dog off their leash in the snow or ice; they can become disoriented and lost, even in familiar place. Be sure your pet has an ID tag, microchip and sturdy leash.
- Wipe your pet’s paws after an outing with a wet cloth to remove any ice or chemicals used to melt snow on sidewalks that can irritate their paws
- Don’t leave your pet in a closed car in the winter because it can be just as deadly as in the summer
- If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on your car hood before starting the engine to give them a chance to escape. Cats like to seek shelter from the cold and can be under the hood of your car.
If you do decide to keep your pet outdoors when temperatures dip, you should provide dogs with the following:
- A dog house of proper size that is dry, draft free and raised off the ground
- A wind flap attached to the doghouse to keep cold air out and warm air in
- Bedding that is non-absorbent such as straw or wood shavings to help keep the dog warm
- Routinely check your pet’s drinking water to make sure it is not frozen and use a secured container to prevent tipping.