The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) offers these tips to make sure your pets are kept safe during extreme winter conditions.
Keep your pets warm and indoors. As always cats should stay inside. Since cats left outdoors may stay warm in car wheel wells or under hoods, you should awake any sleeping animals by wrapping on your car hood before starting the engine.
Trips outside should remain short during the winter months. While dogs need outdoor exercise, lengthy walks can prove harmful especially when wind chill is a factor.
Dogs should remain leashed and supervised when outdoors throughout the year. However in the winter do not bring them near bodies of water even if they appear frozen.
Shorthaired dogs such as Greyhounds, Beagles, Chihuahuas and clipped breeds should be dressed in protective clothing.
Wipe off your dog’s foot pads and stomach fur after returning from the outdoors.
Outdoor shelters for pets should be dry, secure from wind and only large enough for them to stand up, turn around and lie down. The shelter floor should also be elevated from ground level and have dry bedding. A steady water supply should be provided in plastic bowls and checked on so that it does not freeze.
Pets that spend a greater amount of time outdoors also require more food.
Antifreeze products containing ethylene glycol are highly toxic and can produce life-threatening kidney damage, even in small amounts. Many windshield washer products contain methanol, which if ingested can cause drooling, vomiting, drunkenness and severe central nervous system depression.
Ice melt products may contain ingredients that can be very irritating to the skin and gastrointestinal tract, and could also potentially result in more severe effects including depression, weakness, disorientation, low blood pressure, cardiac problems, seizures, coma and even death depending on the type of ice melt and circumstances of exposure.
(Editor's note: This information was provided by the MSPCA.)