Dogs and cats may have fur coats, but they're not immune to the freezing cold any more than we are wearing a fur jacket, sitting on the ground all day.

(Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
(Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)


Unfortunately, not all animals are equipped to withstand winter weather.  Short-coated dogs, such as pointers and pit bulls, young or elderly dogs are extremely sensitive to the cold.  In fact small dogs such as Chihuahuas, dachshunds, and beagles, are even less able to handle the cold than humans are according to PETA.

Indianapolis animal control staffer Dawn Contos says, common sense goes a long way.  As a rule of thumb, if it’s too cold for a human to be comfortable outside, even with a jacket on then, “It’s probably too cold for your dog to be outside.”

PETA’s Community Animal Project fieldworkers say they find animals all winter long who are suffering outside. Dogs and puppies are often tied up outside 24 hours a day, a lot of times with no shelter whatsoever.  It's important to know when animals are out in freezing temperatures, they can suffer from severe hypothermia and frostbite.  Their extremities like the tips of their ears, paws and ends of their tails are susceptible to cold injuries..

Neglected and abandoned animals need our help, if an animal is being adequate food, water or adequate shelter please alert authorities right away.  Your call can mean the difference between life and death.  You can be an “angel” for a lonely dog chained outdoors. Find out how to sponsor a doghouse for a dog in need and make a difference in the life of a neglected “outdoor dog.”

During extreme weather conditions obviously the most sensible thing to do, is keep your 'outside dogs or cats' indoors.  If that's not possible, here's some cold weather tips courtesy of

  • Be sure to provide your dog or cat  with ample shelter from the elements and protection against cold weather.
  • Water must be available at all times.  Keep in mind that in freezing temperatures water will freeze sold.  So pay close attention to that.  Your dog won’t be able to drink and stay hydrated.
  • His sleeping space should be off the ground with a bed, warm blanket or pillow.  If that's not available, old towels, t-shirts or hay will do just as good.
  • A dog house should be large enough for them to stand and turn around in comfortably, but not much larger, or thier body won’t be able to heat the area.
  • If your dog is comfortable in clothing, like a sweater or coat with a high collar or a turtleneck that covers them from the tail to his tummy, by all means put something on them.  Booties for their paws is also a good idea.
  • Never leave your dog alone in a car during cold weather. In the winter, a car is just like a refrigerator, trapping the cold air inside and can cause him to freeze to death.

If you're outside dog or cat shows the following signs, he or she is very cold and it’s time to take them inside:

  • Whining
  • Shivering
  • Anxiety
  • Lethargy

Of course dogs with longer coats will be warmer in the winter and can stay outside longer than others. However, they still need some type of shelter.  If they're elderly, a puppy, or small they are very vulnerable.  Also watch for signs of them being uncomfortable and don't forget to check their water.

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