Protecting your pets during cold winter weather

The Randolph County Humane Society is advising all pet owners to bring their pets inside during this week’s extreme cold. Pet owners also are advised to use caution when exposing their pets to the cold.

Pets depend on their owners to keep them safe and warm during the winter months, the Humane Society says.

Owners are urged to limit their pet’s time outdoors and to never leave very young, very old or short-coated dogs unsupervised when outside in frigid weather.

The general rule is that if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pets. People also need to remember that the thermometer may register one temperature but that wind can make it feel much colder.

The Humane Society said owners also need to provide adequate shelter. If a dog spends extended periods of time outdoors, the owner must provide a well-insulated and draft-free doghouse.

The opening should face south and have a flap that keeps out chilling winds. Line the floor of the doghouse with straw. Do not use blankets and towels that can freeze, making the area colder.

Other precautions:

Provide plenty of food and water: Pets need more energy to properly regulate their body temperature in cold weather. Pets are just as likely to become dehydrated in the winter as in the summer, so be sure to supply plenty of fresh water. Refill the bowls frequently to prevent freezing.

Dry off wet pets: A wet pet is a cold pet. Dry off pets that get wet from rain or snow. Also, clean off and dry their paws to prevent cracked pads. Ice-melting chemicals will burn paws and can make pets sick when they try to lick it off.

Keep your pets with you: The best protection against the ravages of winter is to keep your dog or cat inside with you and your family. The happiest dogs are those who are taken out frequently for walks and exercise, but are kept inside the rest of the time. Dogs and cats are social animals and enjoy human companionship.

The Humane Society notes that pets can and do freeze to death in very cold weather and that animal cruelty is against the law in West Virginia.