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Cold Snap Bad for People and Pets

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PHOTO: Animal experts say this bitter cold snap can be very hard on pets, and they need to be carefully monitored when outside. Photo credit: Tim Morrissey.
PHOTO: Animal experts say this bitter cold snap can be very hard on pets, and they need to be carefully monitored when outside. Photo credit: Tim Morrissey.
January 7, 2014

MADISON, Wis. – The Midwest's dangerous cold snap isn't going to let up until later this week.

And any time temperatures hover around zero, it's dangerous for pets, says Gayle Viney, spokeswoman for the Dane County Humane Society.

She advises dog owners to carefully monitor the length of time their pets are outdoors when it's this cold.

"Very limited times outside,” she says. “Just enough for them to go to the bathroom, and even then, only let them out for a couple minutes.

“If they aren't doing anything, bring them back in, let them warm up, and try and take them out again. Don't just let them stay out there and wait for them to go, because it just might even be too cold for them."

Viney adds pet owners need to be patient with their four-legged friends during cold snaps like this.

She advises owners to keep an eye on their pets when they’re let out, and watch for signs that the cold is getting to them – even with dogs that are bred to do well in cold weather.

"We'll start to see even more breeds like the Huskies and the thicker-coated animals and dogs that really do better outside in these colder temperatures,” she says. “They're even going to show signs of being too cold, and they're going to be picking up their paws and really starting to shiver very quickly.

“And so, you want to pay attention to these signs."

Viney points out that January is the coldest month of the year in Wisconsin, with an average daily high temperature below freezing.

She says pets that are used to being in the house year-round shouldn't be left alone outside for long periods of time when the temperature is below 30 degrees.

And it isn't just dogs to be concerned about at this time of year. Viney says cats are notorious for seeking unusual places to stay out of the elements.

"It's always good to kind of give the hood of your car a little bit of a bang to see if there's a cat that's maybe crawled up into the hood to just try and find warmth against the engine," she explains.


Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI