How cold is too cold? It is pretty common sense for most people to bring their dogs inside when it's cold, but some still find it acceptable to leave their dogs tethered to a chain outside in freezing weather.
You have probably heard that Rockville, Maryland has recently approved legislature warning residents that if they leave their pets tethered outdoors during the cold, they could be fined up to $500 (SCORE!). A director from the Montgomery County Animal Services Division quotes the ordinance as, "A person must not tether a dog under circumstances that endanger its health, safety, or well-being including: unattended tethering of the dog during a weather emergency." This regulates dogs of all coat thickness and all weather conditions.
Although the size and coat thickness of one's pet does make a difference for cold tolerance, it is still up to the owner to pay attention to their pet. Always stay away from frozen bodies of water. It is never certain how much weight ice can hold making your pet (and you!) at risk. Paw pads are more susceptible to damage in the winter months due to ice, snow, and rock salt. It also becomes common to see antifreeze on sidewalks and driveways. Wiping down your pets paws and legs after time spent outside is the best way to prevent poisoning and protect your pet.
Shorter walks and creating a comfortable sleeping condition for your pet may be changes one has to make for the winter season. Not every pet loves a sweater, but they are key components for a shorter dog or one with less hair. For older pets or pets at risk of disease, staying inside is the best option.
But what about strays or wild life? It is easy to create a safe shelter for animals during the winter months. A storage bin or other weather-resistant box acts as a wind blocking home for outdoor animals. Stuffing the shelter with hay or a blanket and raising it off the ground will provide added warmth. Providing fresh, unfrozen water and ample food is key!
Information and tips provided by AVMA.