As you have noticed over the last several days, it is freezing cold outside. Yes, it is winter and it is supposed to be cold, but these temperatures, along with the strong winds, seem a bit extreme for this time of year even in the Berkshires.

We seem to know what to do when it comes to staying warm as it relates to ourselves, kids and other family members. What about our pets?

The cold temperatures can be extremely dangerous for our pets. While some of these seem pretty obvious, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has provided some important cold weather safety tips for your furry friends during this extremely cold run of days in Berkshire County.

 

  • 1

    Keep your home humidified and towel dry your pets as soon as they come inside

    Dogs love to be outside, no matter the temperature. So if they must go out for a short walk, make sure you are prepared for their return to your home.

    "Repeatedly coming out of the cold into the dry heat of your home can cause itchy, flaking skin," says the ASPCA. "Keep your home humidified and towel dry your pet as soon as he comes inside, paying special attention to his feet and in-between the toes. Remove any snow balls from between his foot pads."

  • 2

    Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter

    I would love to be able to grow long, flowing locks of hair to protect my shiny head in the winter time. The problem is I can not and I accept that. Your pets, however, need those layers to help keep them warm in these cold temperatures to add extra protection.

    " If your dog is long-haired, simply trim him to minimize the clinging ice balls, salt crystals and de-icing chemicals that can dry his skin, and don’t neglect the hair between his toes," the ASPCA states. "If your dog is short-haired, consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear."

     

  • 3

    Wash and dry your pet’s feet and stomach

    Again, if you must go on walks, preparation is key for the outdoors, as well as the return to the household as the ASPCA explains.

    "Bring a towel on long walks to clean off stinging, irritated paws. After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet and stomach to remove ice, salt and chemicals—and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes."

     

  • 4

    Bathe your pets as little as possible during cold spells

    Your pets are always susceptible to picking up odors. While baths are unavoidable, keeping them to a minimum is important during these freezing cold days.

    "Washing too often can remove essential oils and increase the chance of developing dry, flaky skin," says the ASPCA. "If your pooch must be bathed, ask your vet to recommend a moisturizing shampoo and/or rinse."

  • 5

    Take care of the paws

    Taking care of your dog's paws is very critical during this exponentially cold time.

    "Massaging petroleum jelly or other paw protectants into paw pads before going outside can help protect from salt and chemical agents," explains the ASPCA. "Booties provide even more coverage and can also prevent sand and salt from getting lodged between bare toes and causing irritation. Use pet-friendly ice melts whenever possible."

  • 6

    Avoid antifreeze and coolant

    For us humans, we have to start our vehicles early to get off to work, school or whatever we need to do throughout the day. Often times, antifreeze leaks could occur outside, or the bottles themselves could be visible.

    "Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats," says the ASPCA. "Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol."

     

  • 7

    Extra food for energy

    I know I like to eat more during the winter time. Of course, the importance for me eating extra food as compared to our pets are much different.

    "Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm in wintertime, the ASPCA explains. "Feeding your pet a little bit more during the cold weather months can provide much-needed calories, and making sure they have plenty of water to drink will help keep them well-hydrated and their skin less dry."

  • 8

    Added layers while they sleep

    The one thing I truly enjoy about winter is the feeling of getting those comfortable clothes on and diving under the covers next to my family. That feeling you get when the warmth kicks in is phenomenal. Pets need that feeling as well.

    "Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect."

  • 9

    If you are too cold, so are your pets

    I know that with our 4-year-old, if we have any questions about whether or not to go outside, the answer is no. There are times when going outside is something that has to happen, but when it comes to your pets, the same mentality applies.

    "If left outdoors, pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured or killed," states the ASPCA. "In addition, don’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death."