SAN LUIS VALLEY - As we enter the heart of the winter season freezing temperatures are the norm in the San Luis Valley. It is not uncommon for temperatures to dip well below zero most nights. This bitter cold can be very dangerous for animals left outside all night. Though they have fur coats it is often not enough to keep the biting cold out. Thankfully there are many ways pet owners can help keep their furry friends warm.
It is a good idea to remove snow, ice, salt and other ice treatment chemicals from their fur and paws. This helps keep them dry and prevents them from ingesting any chemicals found in the ice treatment. You should also check their paw pads for any cracks and make sure there is no redness between their toes. Massaging petroleum jelly into their paw pads before going outdoors can help protect them from salt and chemical agents. Dog booties can also provide extra protection.
Another important pet safety rule is to never leave your animal alone in a car during cold weather. In the winter cars trap cold air and become refrigerators on wheels. Also it is always a good idea to check under the hood of outdoor vehicles before you start them. Outdoor cats often seek refuge from the cold by huddling against still warm engines.
You shouldn’t shave your dog too much in the winter as a longer winter coat provides more warmth. If you have a dog with short hair naturally, consider getting a dog coat or sweater. It is also important to make sure you are feeding your animals a little more in the winter and providing them with lots of water. The chilly temperatures will cause them to burn calories faster and make it harder for them to stay hydrated.
At night especially as temperatures hit the negatives the best idea is to just bring them inside, or at least provide them with proper shelter. “We want people that have animals out there to provide a better shelter for them. Shelters that are in good shape. We’ve visited a couple people that have dog houses without proper insulation,” said Monte Vista Code Enforcement Officer Eric Lira. Officer Lira suggested even figuring out ways to put a heat lamp in the shelter to make things warmer. However he shared that bringing them indoors is probably the best option, “I tell people all the time, bring your dogs inside. Bring your pets inside. If it’s below zero keep them warm inside,” said Officer Lira.