Winter temperatures carry risks for pets

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Winter can pose many dangers to your health. From ice to snow to blistering winds, safety is always a concern.

That’s no different for pets.

“If you’re uncomfortable outside, they’re uncomfortable outside,” said Connie Greer, general manager of the Barren River Animal Welfare Association (BRAWA).

Humans run the risk of getting hypothermia if they’re outside in the cold temperatures for too long, but pets can be at an even greater risk, and it doesn’t even need to get that cold.

“Forty-five degrees is the rule of thumb,” Greer said. “That’s when they really start to become uncomfortable.”

That comfort gauge applies more so to pets who spend most of their time outside, constantly susceptible to the bitter cold periods of winter. Keeping that in mind, though, there are several ways that owners can ensure the safety of their animals when that number on the thermometer begins to drop.

“Pets should always have proper shelter,” Greer said. “You should use lots of straw for dogs especially. They definitely need to have water and food. If you can bring them inside, that’s the best bet.”

Recently, Greer said they’ve seen an increase in dogs who are brought in for treatment to BRAWA. She mentioned how dogs have, in their search for shelter from the cold, been getting hit by cars, while cats often hide up in the engine or wheel spoke of a car, also putting one of their nine lives at risk.

“Hypothermia is very common in the dogs especially. Cats will usually find themselves a hole or somewhere to get themselves in. Dogs, it’s not quite as easy,” Greer said. “It’s really important to get them inside, keep them warm, and keep them fed.”

For owners who enjoy taking their pets for a daily walk, despite the cold temperatures, Greer warned that it’s important to limit the amount of time you’re outside to around 10 minutes to ensure not only the well-being of the animal, but of the owner’s as well.

“If it’s really too cold for you, and you’re very uncomfortable, and you know that you could get frostbitten, then you don’t want an animal outside taking long walks,” she said.