It’s winter and although we in the Triangle have enjoyed mild weather at times, the recent snow storm has shown that it can still get quite chilly in North Carolina. When that happens, you should know how to keep your pets safe when the temperature drops. Like humans, pets are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia. With Chapel Hill’s January average low of 28.6° it is important to make sure your pet stays warm and healthy.
What Temperature is Too Cold For Your Pet?
Obviously, if a rare blizzard, with below-freezing temperatures, swirling wind and snow were to hit North Carolina, you’d bring your furry friends inside to stay safe. But what about cold, but not frigid weather?
It depends on your pet. The American Veterinary Medical Association suggests using these factors to assess how well your pet will withstand the weather:
- Your pet’s health—a pet with an illness or chronic condition is more susceptible to the cold.
- Age—younger pets and older pets have more difficulty regulating their body temperature and staying warm.
- Size—a smaller pet usually has less body fat and can get cold faster than a larger pet with more fat and muscle.
- Coat—pets with thicker, longer coats have more protection from the cold than ones with shorter or sparser hair.
More vulnerable pets should certainly be brought in when the temperature is below 40 degrees. Furrier working animals that are used to being outside may fare well as long as the temperature is above zero.
Also consider the activity. A short, brisk walk or a quick romp chasing a Frisbee are excellent ways for your pet to spend time outside while staying warm. On the other hand, a pet that is outside for long periods of time with little activity can suffer.
The type of weather can play a role in your pet’s ability to handle the cold. A sunny, 42° day can feel much warmer than a damp, 42° day with a wind chill.
If your pet must remain outside in cold weather, make sure he has a warm shelter that is raised off the ground and protected from the wind, dry bedding and access to fresh, unfrozen water.
Should your pet show signs of hypothermia, including whining, shivering, slowing down, lack of coordination and lethargy.
Questions about determining your pet’s temperature limits or about winter healthcare? Give us a call at Dogwood Veterinary and Pet Resort at 919-942-6330. We work in the Chapel Hill, Pittsboro, Hillsborough, Carrboro and Orange and Chatham County areas.