Cold Weather Pet Safety

Press release from Alachua County

North Central Florida is expected to see temperatures at or below freezing this weekend. The Alachua County Department of Animal Resources and Care wants to remind citizens that pets, just like people, need a warm place to stay. 

Due to the present quarantine for exposure to the canine distemper virus, Animal Resources & Care has several dogs housed in a large tent outdoors. On cold nights, like those forecast this weekend, the dogs are brought indoors. The public can rest assured that all efforts are made to keep these dogs safe and warm. Animal Resources and Care encourage all pet owners to do the same.

The common belief that dogs and cats are more resistant than people to cold weather because of their fur is untrue. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside. Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as Huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods in below-freezing weather. Pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured, or killed if left outdoors. In addition, do not leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death.

Consider a sweater or dog coat for dogs with short coats or who seem bothered by the cold weather. Have several on hand, so dogs can use a dry sweater or coat each time it goes outside. Wet sweaters or coats can make dogs colder. Some pet owners also use booties to protect their dog’s feet. Those who choose to use them should make sure they fit properly.

Just like people, pets’ cold tolerance can vary from pet to pet based on their coat, body fat stores, activity level, and health. Dog owners should be aware of their pet’s tolerance for cold weather and adjust accordingly. Owners will probably need to shorten their dogs’ walks in frigid weather to protect both owner and dogs from weather-associated health risks. Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing’s disease) may have a more challenging time regulating their body temperature and may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes. The same goes for very young and very old pets. Pet owners should consult their veterinarian if they need help determining their pet’s temperature limits.

  • If the choice is between giving city commissioners or a dog/cat a blanket – give it to the dog or cat.

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