Behind the Forecast: Do’s and don’ts of protecting pets in the winter

Behind the Forecast: Do’s and don’ts of protecting pets in the winter
Winter can be dangerous for pets. Meteorologist Tawana Andrew breaks down how you can protect them in this week's Science Behind the Forecast. (Source: Pixabay)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - As humans, most of us bundle up as temperatures drop. Our four-legged friends depend on us to keep them safe and warm.

While dogs have their fur coats, they will still get quite cold. Breed, age, health and size are major factors for how well animals can handle frigid temperatures. Once temperatures drop to 40°F, small to medium-sized dogs can experience hypothermia and frostbite, according to Petplan. Pet owners, no matter the size or type of dog, should take extra care when temperatures reach 30°F.

Once temperatures drop to 20°, it’s recommended that smaller dogs avoid prolonged outdoor activity. At 10° most dogs should not be outdoors, according to Mental Floss. The chart below from Petplan provides a more detailed breakdown of how cold is too cold for your dog. Check the wind chill as well when taking out your pups, they feel it as much as we do.

This chart explains how dangerous it can be for pets as temperatures drop.
This chart explains how dangerous it can be for pets as temperatures drop. (Source: Petplan)

While some may not like wearing them (because really, who does), sweaters and booties can help keep your pooch just a little warmer.

Booties do more than keep a dog’s paws warm, they also protect the sensitive paws from de-icing chemicals and antifreeze. Wiping them down after a walk is important to keep them from licking these chemicals off their fur.

Rock salt poses two major hazards to pets: damage to their feet and poisoning from ingestion. Not only do large grains of salt hurt when they get stuck in a dog’s paws (think walking on legos), but they can also lead to frostbite and chemical burns due to the de-icing process.

Antifreeze is enticing to pets; it smells and tastes sweet but incredibly dangerous. Ethylene glycol, an ingredient in antifreeze and windshield de-icing agents, can be fatal in as little as a tablespoon can result in severe acute kidney failure in dogs. As little as 1 teaspoon can be fatal to cats.

Science Behind the Forecast: Do's and don’ts of protecting pets in the winter

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