At first glance, Pluto looks like a perfectly healthy dog. The truth is, he's very sick.
Pluto has spent years as an outside-only dog in the most frigid temperatures. At five years old, he has permanent nerve damage to his paws due to a close call with frostbite, as well as damage to his lungs resulting in chronic bronchitis.
Giving voice to pets like Pluto, CAWS wants to remind its Delta County friends and neighbors that January can be our coldest month. Remember this general rule of thumb: If it's too cold for you outside, it's probably too cold for your pets.
Dogs and cats usually fair better than their masters outdoors but freezing weather can still lead to frostbite and hypothermia in minutes. Most outdoor pets should spend the night indoors when it's dangerously cold. While many dogs and cats have fur to retain heat, only some grow thicker coats in response to diminished daylight and most do not have the necessary under-coat to successfully weather the cold.
There is no set "dangerously cold" temperature for pets. It's an issue of relative tolerance. Some dog breeds, like huskies and malamutes, do fairly well in wintery weather. Indoor pets don't get natural cues to grow winter coats, so it's harder for them to stay warm outside or when you turn down the heat inside. Short-haired varieties have a harder time, too, as do young and elderly pets.
When the mercury drops below freezing, most dogs and cats can only endure 10 or 15 minutes outdoors — fewer still if it's windy.
If you simply cannot bring pets indoors when it drops below freezing, particularly overnight, make sure they have a draft-free shelter with a blanket or other warm bedding and a heating pad or heat lamp. Give outdoor pets extra food during the day to help give the extra calories they need to maintain their optimal body temperatures. Change their water often and make sure it doesn't freeze into ice.
Outdoor cats or indoor-outdoor cats may ferret out warmth, even if it's from an engine block. Rap the hood of your car before starting it to avoid heartbreak.
When you take your short-haired pets outdoors in cold weather, dress them in garments like coats or booties and never leave them alone.
It will take months for Pluto's CAWS foster parents to nurse him back to health so that he can be adopted. His life is likely to be shortened by his long-term, cold-weather exposure but it is sure to be a happy one with a new family that understands his needs and can get him safe and oh-so-cozy.blog comments powered by Disqus