BUFFALO, N.Y. — Winter weather can be hard on all of us, including our four-legged friends. With a potentially historic snowstorm rolling through western New York, dropping temperatures below freezing, the weather brings new responsibilities and challenges to pet owners.
Here are some tips that can help keep your animals safe and comfortable as they ride out the snowstorm with you.
Staying In: It may sound obvious, but cats and dogs should stay inside during cold weather. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there's a common myth that pets are more resistant to the cold than people because of their fur. But that's largely untrue. While some dog breeds, like huskies, are more tolerant of cold weather, pets shouldn't be left outside.
Keeping Warm Outside: Obviously, some pets need to be taken outside even in cold weather. Keep a careful eye on your dog when taking it out to do its business, and be aware of its tolerance for cold weather, especially if your pet has any medical conditions. Take shorter walks and avoid the deepest snowbanks, which can sap their body heat.
Pet-proof Your House: Especially if you're bringing an outdoor pet indoors for a while, it's a good idea to check how safe your house is for an animal. Make sure your carbon monoxide detectors are working properly, because pets will experience the effects first. Be cautious about using a space heater, because they can burn or be knocked over easily. And check that your anti-freeze is secured, because it's a deadly poison.
Give them activities: Just like people, pets can get cabin fever if they're cooped up inside for too long. Make sure your furry companions have plenty of toys and other things to distract them. You can also dedicate extra time to playing with them inside the house to get out their energy. Pets also may try to sleep in different places than usual when snowed in. Give them choices, so they can pick based on their need for warmth or a bit of cool.
Stay Alert: Animals can't speak, but they can still let you know when something is wrong. If your pet is whining or shivering, it could be a sign something is wrong. Dogs and cats can get hypothermia, and are more susceptible to picking up ice on their paws. Wipe down your dog's feet after any walks to take off any deicers or anti-freeze, which can be toxic. You should also check their paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injuries, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding.