FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — The Humane Society of Missouri wants pet owners to remember its life-saving motto as weather gets colder this winter: 35 degrees and below, protect Fido!
— Bring pets inside: Pets cannot be outside for long periods of time in freezing weather. A common misconception is that fur will protect a pet in cold weather. Just like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite, and they should not be left outside in the cold for prolonged periods of time, no matter the circumstance.
— Provide a cozy space: If there are no other options and animals are going to be left outdoors, owners must provide a well-insulated, draft-free, appropriately sized doghouse with a sturdy, flexible covering to prevent icy winds from entering. Adequate shelter is mandatory by law.
— Press “paws” on pet injuries: Upon coming inside, check your animal’s paws for signs of cold-weather damage, such as a cracked paw pad, redness between toes and any bleeding, as well as chemicals such as rock salt.
— Layer up your pup: If your dog has a thinner coat or seems bothered by cooler temperatures, consider a sweater or a dog coat. But be careful — a wet sweater or coat can actually make your dog colder, so keep it dry.
— Schedule your winter wellness exam: If your pet has not visited the veterinarian for their annual wellness exam, don’t delay. Cold weather can worsen certain medical conditions such as arthritis, so bring your pets into the vet when it’s safe outside.
(Editor’s note: This article was submitted to the GUIDON by the Humane Society of Missouri and has been edited for publication.)