Keeping Pets Safe During Winter Weather

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Extremely cold temperatures can be dangerous for young children and the elderly to be out in, but they can also pose serious risks for your four-legged friends.

According to the American Veterinary Medicine Association, pets should be kept inside during cold weather if possible.

If they have to go outside, pets should have adequate shelter with straw bedding to wick any moisture away. Experts say blankets will absorb moisture and make your pet colder.

"Anything that you can do to make for sure that they are blocked from the wind," said Amanda Green, Senior Pet Trainer at Petsmart in Fort Smith. "The wind is going to be the worst thing because they can actually get frostbite just like we can."

When you bring your pet back inside, dry them off with a towel to help remove any remaining moisture they may have picked up. It is also important to wipe the salt off your pet's feet and check for frostbite and irritation.

Green suggests buying your pets insulated coats to block the wind and booties to protect their paws.

"We actually have a really good brand up here that is actually insulated," she said. "It's not one that's just going to look cute. Of course we have the ones that look cute as well too, but these really help them stay warm."

Outside cats will try to hide from the wind by hiding in potentially dangerous places like car engines and wheel wells, according to Joann Barton, Executive Director of the Sebastian County Humane Society.

"It's a good idea if you have cats in your neighborhood to honk that horn before you start the engine in the morning because they will try to get up there to get warm," Barton said.


Barton said pets should be fed 25 percent more during the winter months to give them extra fuel and warmth. By using water bowls that prevent water from freezing, pets can easily stay hydrated.

"The cold actually dehydrates dogs just like the cold melts the snow off the ground, it does the same thing to animals when they're outside without adequate moisture, " said

Symptoms of hypothermia present themselves in the form of whining, shivering, or fidgeting. If those behaviors are uncharacteristic of your pet, there may be something wrong.