WOODLAND PARK, N.J. — As temperatures dip to below freezing in some parts of the country over the next few days, humans aren’t the only ones who should beware of the cold — dogs and cats are also at risk, say animal experts.
“The thinner the coat, the more hair-like the coat, the more exposed they are to the cold in general,” said Levinson, who works at the Bergen County Veterinary Center.
Dog owners can help protect their pets by bundling them up and keeping an eye on their behavior — if a pet is at the door and wants to come back inside, the owner should let him come in and warm up, Levinson said.
“Make sure they have a warm place to sleep and warm up when they come in,” she said. “If it’s too cold for you, it’s likely too cold for them.
Outdoor cats, meanwhile, should stay inside as much as possible. But if they insist on being outside, make sure they have a place to get shelter from the wind and snow, Levinson said. If the cat regularly hunts outside, she said owners should leave food out in case prey animals are scarce.
Symptoms of hypothermia in cats and dogs include blue tinting to the skin or lips, lethargy, and disinterest in food. Shivering is also a warning sign for dogs, as they rarely shiver, Levinson said, adding dogs should be kept out of cold water, as that makes their body temperature drop faster than just playing in the snow.
Cats tend to hide when they’re not feeling well, making that another warning sign owners should look out for, Levinson said.