As I write this, I'm watching snow fall from the sky, and everything is quiet. All of my neighbors are awaiting (or already hiding from) the bomb cyclone. The Northeast is expected to be hit with six to 12 inches of snow, and winds up to 60 mph. Thankfully, many businesses and schools have cancelled operations ahead of the storm, so we can stay nice and cozy — pass the hot cocoa, please! But what about our furry friends? Is the bomb cyclone too cold for pets?
The answer really depends on a number of factors. Apparently, these factors include the size of the pet, the breed, the length of their fur, and their overall health. All of these traits can help determine how to best care for your pet in the cold. NPR sited guidelines by pet health writer and veterinarian Dr. Kim Smyth, who provided her readers with tips about how to tell if it's too cold outside for your dog. She sourced her guidelines from Tufts Animal Condition and Care system.
Smaller dog breeds with thinner coats are more at risk in this type of severe winter weather. This makes sense, as they have less body mass and fur to keep warm with. But generally speaking, this type of weather can be dangerous for any pet. Thankfully, there are ways to combat the cold and keep your dog or cat safe.
There's a long winter ahead of us, and your pet's overall health can determine how well they will do in the cold. According to NPR, if your dog is already suffering from a different health problem, it may be more difficult for them to regulate their body temperature. Winter is a good time for a check-up, to determine any extra steps you might need to take to keep your dog protected over the next few months. Even if they're healthy, the cold can still be brutal for pets — so be sure to take all the precautions you can.
You've probably seen a dog dressed up in tiny clothing and rolled your eyes (or maybe you totally gush over a pup in a jacket). As it turns out, dressing up your pets is not only a fashion statement, but might actually be key to keeping them warm this winter. Dog sweaters and booties can help keep your canine pals protected when they do have to go outside.
Booties will keep your dog's paws protected from the cold ground, but they can also protect them from deicing agents, like salt and antifreeze. If your dog doesn't have booties, make sure to check their paws when they come inside for any particles that may be lodged in, and for any redness or swelling in the paw pads.
When they're outside, keep an eye on their physiological reactions to the cold. Dogs can get hypothermia, so watch out for shivering. Smyth reportedly talked to Here & Now's Robin Young about signs that your dog is too cold, and said, "Shivering would be the first sign ... so you want to get these dogs inside, wrap them up in a warm towel or blanket and get them to the vet if you need to." If the shivering doesn't stop, try to make your way to the vet, or at the very least call them to see what other measures you can take.
Smyth reportedly suggested that if you have an indoor/outdoor cat (or a totally outdoor cat), make sure that they have access to insulated outdoor shelter. You also want to make sure that their water isn't frozen — so keep it in a spot where it can stay above freezing, and check on it regularly. If your cat doesn't have access to insulated shelter or non-frozen water, you'll want to bring them inside for the time being.
If your cat does have access to insulated outdoor shelter, make sure you still keep track of where they are. According to NPR, cats have a tendency to hide, particularly when they find warm places... such as underneath the hood of your car. Smyth urges pet owners to bang on the hoods of their cars before using them so they can scare the cat out if one is hiding.
Whether you're a dog person or a cat person, we all want to keep our pets safe this winter. With these tips, you and your pet can brave the cold together.
Check out the entire Gen Why series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.