Colder temperatures usually mean a drop in the mosquito population. If you’re in a cooler climate and are mosquito-free, that’s fantastic! Just remember, they may not be gone, but instead just hiding out until Spring. Eggs laid in Fall can survive the winter, and some species of adult mosquitoes can hibernate until temps begin to rise.
Unfortunately, our furry friends are not as adaptable to the winter weather. Just because they’re wearing fur, does not mean they’ll acclimate as easily as mosquitoes.
If your pet is accustomed to your climate controlled home, they may be hesitant to step outside for even a few minutes when it’s cold out. It doesn’t hurt to put a sweater on your short-haired dog when taking him for a quick walk. It will help keep him warm with the added bonuses of extra cuteness and style. You may be one of those folks whose pet has a bigger wardrobe than you, therefore you’re likely to have weather-appropriate garb on hand. If your dog is au naturale all the time, then you might want to consider purchasing an inexpensive sweater and some booties to make winter walks a little more comfortable.
If you have a dog or cat who spends their days out in the yard or roaming free without any problems, consider that during the winter things are different for them. Even if you are in a climate which experiences a mild winter, the drop in temperatures can still affect your pet.
According to PetMD.com, “In general, cold temperatures should not become a problem for most dogs until they fall below 45° F, at which point some cold-averse dogs might begin to feel uncomfortable. When temperatures fall below 32° F, owners of small breed dogs, dogs with thin coats, and/or very young, old or sick dogs should pay close attention to their pet’s well-being. Once temperatures drop under 20° F, all owners need to be aware that their dogs could potentially develop cold-associated health problems like hypothermia and frostbite.” In spite of their furry coats, frostbite or hypothermia from windchill can occur on any exposed skin including nose, paw pads, and ears.
If bringing your animals inside the house is not possible, the best thing you can do is provide some kind of shelter from the weather. The Humane Society recommends for dogs, “a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow them to move comfortably, but small enough to hold in body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches from the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.” For cats, especially those roaming your neighborhood with no known home, you can easily make a shelter with a plastic tub.
Warm car engines attract cats — and small wildlife — and they may be prone to crawling under the hood of your car. To avoid injury to animals, do check under your hood and/or bang on the hood to scare them away before you start your car.
The Humane Society also recommends plastic bowls for food and water, as your pet’s tongue could stick and freeze to metal.
Wintertime Poisoning Risks
Not only can rock salt irritate the pads on your pets’ feet, but they are a poison if ingested. If they eat rock salt, call your vet immediately. If they come in from outside where their feet were in contact with a treated area, take special care to wipe their feet to remove any residue before they lick the area.
Just as with children, antifreeze is a particular winter hazard because of its sweet taste. Wipe up spills as soon as they occur, and keep the container out of reach. According to the Humane Society, “coolants and antifreeze made with propylene glycol are less toxic to pets, wildlife, and family.”