Below 40 Degrees Outside – Bring Your Pets In!

Below 40 Degrees Outside – Bring Your Pets In!

by Janet Winter

Care for your pets in cold weather just as you care for yourself. They depend on you to be sensitive to their needs and health. Animals left outside when temperatures fall below 40 degrees are not only subject to hypothermia, but they can even die.

Here are some tips to help make your animal companions more comfortable and safe during winter’s cold days and nights.

Keep your pets indoors, even if they have an enclosed cage or doghouse outside. Short-hair dogs and puppies are especially susceptible to frigid temperatures. An unheated garage or basement isn’t always the solution. Use a thermometer to determine if the temperature is consistently above 40 degrees.

If for some reason you are unable to bring your dog indoors, check their outdoor sleeping quarters for the following necessities. Doghouses should be large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around in and to allow for sleeping in a curled position, but it should not be too large. A large doghouse allows too much of the animal’s body heat to escape. The floor of the house should be raised a few inches off the ground and dry fresh bedding should be spread inside. Cedar shavings are the best if you don’t have a heated bed or mat. When using a heated mat, be sure it doesn’t cover the entire floor of the house to allow the dog to choose the degree of warmth needed. A flap of carpet over the opening will help hold in the heat.

Heated water bowls not only keep the water from freezing, but the warm water also helps to keep the core temperature of the animal’s body warmer.

Conduct regular ‘paw checks’ for dogs brought in from outdoors. Be sure to clean away snow or ice from between toes and dry the paw pads thoroughly. Moisture, salt and other de-icers from sidewalks or roads can become trapped between the animal’s toes and cause sores or irritation to the point of bleeding.

Car engines provide a warm, inviting sleeping place for cats left out in the cold or in a garage, but serious injuries can be caused by the fan belt when the car is started. Be sure to tap loudly on the car hood or honk the horn before starting your car. Of course, cats are just as susceptible to frigid temperatures as dogs, so the best plan is to bring them indoors for the winter. There are heated beds and mats specifically for cats if they must be left in a cold garage or basement.

Antifreeze tastes sweet and delicious to your pet, but it is a deadly poison. Clean up any radiator drainage spots with water immediately. Ask for brands of antifreeze that are now safer for pets and more environmentally sound.

Frequent brushing of indoor pets is even more important in winter to remove dead skin and hair and help stimulate the animal’s oil glands. Low humidity can lead to dry, itchy skin and increased shedding.

Bottom line – use common sense when caring for your pets. Their life is in your hands.

High-quality heated dog beds, pads and water bowls, can be found at

About the Author

Janet Winter is a web designer, travel agent and writer on many topics. She has a deep love for animals and delights in providing helpful resources and unique products for your pampered dogs at

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