Single-digit temperatures raise concern about pets

Single-digit temperatures raise concern about pets »Play Video
Take care of your pets cold weather needs
PULLMAN, WA - What pet and livestock owners should be doing to keep their animals safe as temperatures drop.

We're seeing single-digit temperatures on the Palouse this week and, for us humans, that's cold. But this weather can be even tougher on pets because they can't bundle up like we do.

"Think of them as being exposed to the same cold that you are, so if it's too cold for you, minimize that time outside and just remember, just because they have hair doesn't mean that they're not susceptible to the cold," said WSU College of Veterinary Medicine Clinical Assistant Professor Matthew Mickas.

When it comes to cats and dogs, veterinarians at Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine say bring them inside.

"And inside doesn't necessarily mean inside of a home, but potentially like a well-built shelter, well-build dog house," said Mickas.

They say more hearty animals like cows and horses don't need as much protection from freezing temperatures, but they may need extra attention during the first freeze of the season.

"Especially here in the Palouse, it can go from 40 degrees to ten below in a very short period of time, and it takes horses, and animals, and cattle time to adapt their hair coats to that colder temperature," said WSU College of Veterinary Medicine Associate Professor of Equine Surgery Claude Ragle.

Ragle said livestock will eventually grow enough hair to stay warm over the winter, but they’ll need a place to protect themselves from the wind.

"Whether it's a row of heavy trees, or even a wall or a building," said Ragle.

Water is a concern for all animals when temperatures drop…

"It's very important that they have water available 24 hours, 7 days a week so that they don't go without water,” said Ragle. “That may require a tank heater to place in the water to keep it from freezing overnight."

And if your dog has an outdoor water bowl, the water should be changed several times a day so it doesn't freeze. And vets say to clean their paws when you're bringing them in after a walk.

"Making sure there's not anything that's potentially contaminating the snow, things like salts, antifreeze, things that they might lick off coats, we want that taken care of and gotten rid of," said Mickas.

One more thing to remember is to be careful with your pets and livestock around lakes and ponds. They could step on thin ice and fall through.

Other cold weather tips for keeping your pets safe include putting sweaters on short-haired dogs when taking them for a walk, warming up older pets with indoor exercise before walking them to help their joints, and making sure the shoes are off your horses when the pastures get snowy.