As the weather becomes frigid, itâ€™s often Fido who suffers.
â€œCold weatherâ€™s always an issue, especially for older pets,â€ said Ryan Orr, senior technician at All Creatures Animal Hospital in Stanley.
Pets who do not have adequate housing can suffer during the winter months of cold, rain and snow.
Some pet owners feel satisfied providing their outdoor animal with a simple dog house to protect from the cold, but more is needed.
â€œThey go ahead and get the house, but they donâ€™t put anything in there,â€ said Orr. â€œThe house isnâ€™t necessarily the important part.â€
Instead, pet owners need to make sure to have bedding of some kind to keep the pet warm. Hay or old blankets serve nicely. Just make sure the bedding is sturdy.
â€œYou donâ€™t want any pieces chewed up that could get stuck in bellies,â€ said Stacey Plonk, supervising technician at Ironton Animal Hospital.
For outdoor pets, a dog house helps shield from wind and rain. The more secure a house is, the more comfortable it will be for the pet.
â€œIt should be sealed off with as little opening to the outside as possible,â€ said Plonk. â€œThey even make little doggy doors to cover the entrance to the house.â€
Several pet stores offer safe heated floor mats or non-electric arm bedding. Deeply bedded straw also keeps away the cold.
Pet owners should not, however, place heat lamps or space heaters into their dog houses. These are dangerous and could cause fires.
Pet stores also offer heated pet bowls, which come in handy when the weather goes below freezing. Most animals do not know how to break ice, and they can become dehydrated.
â€œ(Pet owners) need to be sure they have a lot of food and water because a lot of pet owners donâ€™t know that even in the cold weather, dogs can get dehydrated very quickly,â€ said Plonk.
When weather becomes especially cold, owners should consider moving their pets to a warmer area, such as a garage.
In general, however, outdoor dogs can handle the elements quite nicely.
â€œIf the owner just keeps a good eye on their dog and provides for them when they can, theyâ€™re usually OK, especially if theyâ€™re outside all the time,â€ said Plonk.
Owners should also keep an eye out for arthritis, which is aggravated by cold, damp weather. If a pet is having trouble getting up, lying down, climbing stairs or starts to cry when being picked up, a visit to the veterinarian is in order.
One thing that pets can go without in the winter is pet clothing.
â€œI really donâ€™t know how practical it is for dogs to wear them continuously outside, especially dogs with thicker coats,â€ said Plonk. â€œThey were made for the outside, so their coats are usually enough. I donâ€™t know if I would feel safe leaving it with my dog outside because theyâ€™d get chewed up.â€by Sarah Grano