February 24, 2008 by Maria-Elena Cloherty, DVM
When the temperatures are below 40 degrees, your pets should not stay outside for very long.
No more than 15 minutes or so is alright, unless you are taking them for a walk or they are participating in another aerobic activity-hunting, luring, racing, etc.
Types of Animals We Worry About Most
Animals we worry about especially during the colder temperatures are the very young/old who may not have the best immune system and/or fat reserves to keep them warm, or pets who are naturally extremely lean and thin-coated (e.g. Greyhounds).
This category of animals can quickly become hypothermic, and get frostbite very rapidly, especially as temps start dipping below 35 Fahrenheit.
No pet should ever be left at home out of doors unattended. In Massachusetts there is actually a law against doing this.
Remember also if the temps drop below freezing, any water that may be left outside for our pets will freeze too.
For those adventuresome pets, or those we like to take with us during colder weather, there are coats, as well as booties made to protect our pets from extreme temperatures and trauma.
Though some pets (like mine ) think of this as torture, and some people may think you are “nuts” for dressing your dog, this is not so.
You can legitimize your actions by saying that you are helping protect their feet from ice which can injure their pads, and helping them to maintain a normal body temperature in more extreme/inclement weather.
Another consideration that most of us forget is that the caloric intake needs for many pets will decrease if their activity level diminishes with decrease in temperature.
If this is true for your pet, you may ask your vet about how to decrease their feed so as to not promote obesity.
Obesity is one of the number one causes of many disease conditions in our pets that can eventually lead to severe pain & even death.
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