Pets are happiest when taken out frequently for walks and exercise but kept inside with the family. If your pet is kept outdoors it is recommended he/she be protected by a dry, draft-free shelter elevated off the ground (or with a floor that protects them from damp/cold soil) that is large enough to allow them to move comfortably, but small enough to effectively trap their body heat.
Pets who spend about half the day outdoors need more food in the winter because trying to keep warm increases their metabolic rate which in turn uses more energy. Frequently check your pet’s food and water bowls to make sure they are clean and not frozen; on very cold winter mornings your pets tongue can stick and freeze to a metal bowl. Wildlife, such as coyotes who are also trying to stay warm, may get an easy meal from your pet’s food/water bowl, so feeding your pet inside is recommended.
All temperatures are not created equal. The temperature, as registered on a thermometer, isn’t the only environmental factor that affects how pets feel the cold. Wind chill can quickly cut through a pet’s coat and greatly decreases its ability to insulate and protect against cold temperatures. Rain, heavy fog, bathing, going for a swim, any form of dampness that soaks through the fur can quickly chill a pet even if the air temperature is not that cold. Cloudy days tend to feel colder than sunny days since pets can’t soak up the sun and warm themselves.
The most serious winter weather concern is hypothermia. This occurs when a pet spends too much time in the cold, gets wet in cold temperatures or when a pet with poor health or circulation is exposed to cold. In mild cases, the pet will shiver and his/her ears and feet may grow cold. Exposed skin on noses, ears and paw pads are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia during extreme cold snaps. For this reason, short-haired pets often feel more comfortable wearing a sweater. Remember all pets are not created equal. You must consider breed, coat type, coat color, size, weight, age and health, and the conditions that your pet can tolerate. The best way to monitor pets when it’s cold is to keep a close eye on their behavior. If you notice your pet shivering, acting anxious, whining, slowing down, or searching out warm locations, it’s time to head inside. If you see any of this type of behavior around cantonment, please contact the Animal Control Facility or Military Police with your concerns.
Vehicles are also one of many hazards to small animals. Warm engines in parked vehicles attract cats and small wildlife which may crawl under the hood. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, knock on your vehicles hood or tap your horn to scare them away before starting your engine.
Here are some symptoms of hypothermia:
• Strong shivering and trembling followed by no shivering
• Acting sleepy or lethargic and weak
• Fur and skin are cold to the touch
• Body temperature is below 95 degrees (Fahrenheit)
• Decreased heart rate
• Pupils may be dilated (the black inner circle of the eye appears larger)
• Gums and inner eyelids are pale or blue
• Trouble walking
• Trouble breathing
• Stupor, unconsciousness, or coma
Here are some treatments for hypothermia:
• Remove your pet from the cold and put them in a warm room.
• Dry off your pet thoroughly either with towels or a hair dryer set on low and held about 12 inches away.
• Wrap your pet in a blanket (warm it in the clothes dryer first)
• Wrap warm hot-water bottles in towels (to prevent burning your pet) and place on pet’s abdomen.
• Heating pads can be used if your dog is dry, but supervise them so they don’t chew at the cords.
• Allow your pet to drink warm fluids.
• Check the pet’s temperature with a thermometer. If it’s below 95 degrees, the pet could be at risk for hypothermia. Take your pet to a veterinarian treatment facility immediately.
Animal Control Facility 760-380-8564 (hours of operation 0500-2100 daily)
Military Police Dispatch 760-380-4444
Veterinary Treatment Facility 760-380-3025