Protect your pets from winter temperatures

By Andy Jenks - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The bitter-cold wind chills are a reminder for pet owners to keep a close eye on their cats and dogs.

Veterinarians say pets should always be kept indoors, especially when the temperature falls near or below freezing.

And considering the forecast, it's something to watch for at least the next several days.

It is cold, and windy for a sunny afternoon at Richmond's Barker Field.

But for Kim Lanzarotta and her little dog Hadley, it's worth it.

"Her having a chance to just run and get energy, and play with other dogs as opposed to trying to play catch with me in the house, definitely makes her a happier dog," she said.

Kim doesn't plan on staying out too long, which is a smart decision according to the Richmond SPCA.

"Any pet can get incredibly cold in a very short period of time, spending time outside," said SPCA spokesperson Tamsen Kingry. "Especially when they're not accustomed to spending a lot of time outside."

Whether you have a big, medium, or small dog, their normal temperature range is 100.5 to 102.5.

Dogs can lose heat simply by walking on the cold ground.

Shivering is an easy way to tell if they've been out too long even if they've had shelter.

"A dog house is not as safe for your pet as just keeping him indoors with you," said Kingry.

If you must keep them outside, be sure the dog house is dry, and not drafty.

Make it big enough for the dog - but small enough to retain their body heat.

Facing it away from the wind will also help keep them warm.

With mild hypothermia, a dog is likely to shiver and become lethargic.

No signs of that here at Barker Field.

But Kim knows when it's time for she and Hadley to get back inside.

"Once I stop feeling my toes it's time to go," said Lanzarotta.

The SPCA also has a warning about cats.

On cold nights they'll sometimes they'll crawl up underneath a parked car.

The car is off but the engine might still be warm.

They recommend slapping the hood once or twice to make sure nobody's underneath before you turn the ignition.

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