LANCASTER, Pa. — As the coldest air of the season settles in, it’s important to keep an eye on your pets.
Some dogs, such as Huskies or Malamutes were made for the Arctic chill. But other dogs don’t handle the cold quite so well, according to Dr. Bryan Langlois, past president of the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association.
“If you are dealing with more of your smaller type dogs, your chihuahuas, or even some of your thinner coated dogs, even pit bulls or short coated labs, things like that… you obviously don’t want them to be outside for very long periods of time," says Langlois.
To best keep your pet safe during the bitter cold, take shorter walks with your dogs, Langlois says.
It's also important that when you put your coat on, you put your dogs coat on too.
“While they are fashionable, they also do serve an important function of ensuring that they do help to maintain their body heat." Langlois tells Fox43. "So it does act as almost an extra layer of a fur coat would be the best way to describe it. And it works over their core body area, which preserves a lot of heat there.”
Another important accessory this time of year are dog boots, which, if your pet allows them, will give them more traction on slippery surfaces plus keep their feet warm.
Putting on the dog boots will also avoid bringing in any salt or other ice-melt treatment from outside. If your dog happens to groom or lick that salt off their feet, Langlois says they could experience issues with vomiting, diarrhea, or gastrointestinal upset because of it.
If your dog isn’t a fan of the boots, wiping their paws off with a cloth works just as well, he says.
When it comes to leaving your dog outside on a tether, there are rules that owners need to follow.
Libre’s Law, signed in 2017 by Governor Tom Wolf, states that a dog cannot be tethered outside for longer than 30 minutes when temperatures dip below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Sadly, we see dogs every year that are left outside tethered without shelter and they freeze to death outside," says Langlois. "It’s a really sad thing. It’s 100% preventable. And the laws that are out there now really do make it easier for us to prosecute those cases of people that leave them outside."
And if your dog or any animal will be outside for some time, having proper shelter, water, and food are all necessities to keep them safe.