It’s been ridiculously cold all across the country, especially for December. Anyone who has stepped outside in it ranging from the teens to below zero should know how painful severely cold weather can feel. Adding coats, gloves, hats, and even scarves helps us to not freeze suddenly, but one doesn’t have to stay out long to feel the impact of such temperatures.
I really am frustrated when I mention the extra care needed for our pets in the cold weather, and the response given to me is so frequently that “they have fur” and are built to withstand the cold weather.
If an animal lives primarily indoors with their human family, they too are experiencing the comfort of a heated atmosphere. Within that environment, an animal’s body won’t grow a full winter coat as it’s not necessary, and most indoor pets grow a very slight amount of extra fur for the winter season. Keeping that in mind, letting an animal outside for any reason would be much like us walking outside in the clothes we too are wearing inside the house. Our hands would experience frostbite very quickly as would our feet most likely as we tread about in slippers or a pair of sneakers.
Household pets can suffer from frostbite too and should have their time outside closely monitored.
Some people also say, “They ask to go outside. They love it!” A dog or a cat does love going outside as a rule, but they don’t have any more judgment of the potential danger it could present than a toddler. Just as during the hot summer months, extra consideration is needed for their well-being. Again, as with a human toddler and other young children, when they’re having fun, they will ignore cold, pain, or overheating to the point of a medical emergency.
Animals that are outdoors all winter (I’m not sure why a beloved pet would be expected to do so.), do grow very thick coats and have greater protection against the cold, but their extremities and face can still easily suffer frostbite especially when we force them to live in a restricted area -generally dogs chained to an inadequate doghouse.
Cats are animals that hail from the desert and truly like being and need to be kept warm. They freeze very quickly and many cats die from winter conditions. It’s the reason so many cats find their way under the hoods of warm cars which can also end badly.
Dogs, cats, and other animals need us to be good stewards for them and do the right things for their overall well-being. They would certainly do it for us!