Pet owners have options for keeping animals warm during cold nights

Photo provided by staff
All About Animals

POSTED: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 6:00am

UPDATED: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 6:04am

While people think about how to keep themselves warm on the coldest nights of the season, they also need to think about their four-legged friends.

"If it's an animal that can come inside, then you should probably bring it inside," warned Dr. Rob Braquet, a veterinarian who practices in Gonzales.

Some dog owners said Tuesday they were not concerned about how their pet would manage in the cold night air.

"Not really," Katie McConnell said. "He's pretty tough."

"It's south Louisiana," Catherine Cheramie noted, "so it's not below freezing or anything."

But it was close to freezing early Wednesday morning.

Smaller dogs, and dogs with short fur, are most vulnerable to the cold. Cheramie owns a Chihuahua-Chinese crested mix, so she often puts clothing on it to keep it warm.

"I like to help her out a little bit," she stated. "And she's inside, so she'll sleep with me at night. She's used to indoor temperatures, so when we come outside and it's super-cold, I'll put a sweater on her."

Both Cheramie and McConnell said their dogs live primarily indoors, which greatly reduces their risk of exposure to extreme weather.

For outdoor pets, letting them spend the night in the garage will keep them out of the wind and cold. But cats like the heat that radiates from car engines. Dr. Braquet said he treats lots of cats that get run owner because their owners did not realize they were underneath the car when they start to drive.

"Before you get in your car and start your car, kinda bang on the hood, honk the horn a few times, just to be safe," he suggested.

There is no magic temperature at which it becomes too cold to leave a pet outside. If you are unsure, ask yourself: would you want to spend the night outside?

"Dogs are typically about as used to our temperature as we are," Dr. Braquet said. "If you walk outside and it's freezing, and you don't want to be out there, and you're shivering, they probably are, too."

Even inside pets should be monitored on cold nights. Dogs and cats love space heaters as much as people do. But they have a habit of getting next to them and knocking them over, which could start a fire.

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