(WXYZ) - The extended weather forecast for metro Detroit is dropping to near subzero temperatures with nearly a foot of snow on the way - the Dog Days of Winter are here.
In readiness for the cold temperatures, Detroit Dog Rescue wants to remind Detroit dog owners of their
responsibilities to ensure their pets are safe and comfortable during long periods of extreme cold
Protecting your dog from exposure to extreme cold weather is no different from the preparation
we all do before going outdoors. Tips to keep your pets safe include:
Nutrition & Adequate Hydrations – Dogs that spend most of their time outdoors may need
more calories to maintain their energy level in cold weather. Always check with your vet
regarding all changes to your dog's diet. It's also important to make sure your dog has
adequate water outside. Keep it fresh and in a plastic bowl (avoid metal) to prevent it from
freezing - contrary to popular belief dogs cannot break ice in a water bowl and you do not want
them licking ice or eating snow as a way to hydrate. Snow and ice in an urban setting can be
filled with toxins from salt and other antifreeze products that are harmful to your dog's digestive
If Lost Can Find - During the winter months Detroit Dog Rescue responds to a lot of lost,
homeless and stray dog calls. A year ago a family entering the United States via the Detroit -
Windsor Canada crossing at the Ambassador Bridge lost their dog when it jumped out and ran
away during a boarder patrol inspection. Always keep a collar on your dog and consider having
your pet identified with a microchip. If your dog gets loose, lost or disoriented in cold weather
with an ID collar and microchip you will have a fighting chance if your dog is found and can be
In The Dog House – If your dog must spend significant time outdoors, Detroit Dog Rescue
encourages pet owners to provide adequate sheltering and bedding. Keeping your dog tied up
to the porch, stairs, fence or a tree is not cool or humane. A good way to keep your dog secure
and comfortable is in a doghouse - raised off the ground with a roof to shed away the elements.
In the doghouse make sure you keep enough straw (avoid hay) to provide a nice bedding for
your dog. Straw keeps mold and bacteria down and is a great insulator in the house.
Pet Safety & Winter Hazard – In extreme cold weather believe-it-or-not your dog can get
frostbite on their paw-pads. Prolonged contact with frozen ground surfaces such as concrete
and asphalt can be dangerous for dogs. Be aware of harmful substances such as road salt and
other ice melting antifreeze products that can get lodged in between paws causing an irritation
or chemical burn. Always wipe down your dog's paws after spending time outside - this will
prevent them from digesting any toxic materials when they decide to lick and clean themselves.
Don't Leave Dog in Car – You would think this warning falls into having common sense? Don't
leave your dog in the car unattended for anytime during extreme weather periods – cold or hot.
Just because most dogs have fur does not mean they can stand near artic or below
temperatures. Sure some dog breeds may fair better in colder temperatures, but play it smart
and safe – take Lassie with you or leave her at home!
Groom Regularly - Your pet needs a well-groomed coat to keep him properly insulated. Short or
coarse-haired dogs might get extra cold so consider a sweater or a coat. Long-haired dogs
should have their paw hair trimmed to ease in cleaning and snow removal.
House Warming Party – Carefully keep pets warm inside and away from drafts while inside. I live in
an older home in Detroit with hardwood floors. It can get a bit drafty, so for my dog Pebbles a 3-year
old Bichon Frise who sleeps in a crate at night, I drape a blanket over her cage. Be aware
space heaters and other supplemental heat sources can burn your pet. Keep portable heaters out of
reach and make sure all fireplaces have adequate screening. And, of course, never leave your pet
alone with an unattended fire.
Puppy Power - Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs and may be difficult to
housebreak during the winter. If necessary, paper-train your puppy inside if she appears to be
sensitive to the weather.
Potty Patch Area – It's wintertime and the snow is starting to pill up. After shoveling the
driveway don't forget to brush away a clear path and area to Scooby Doo's favorite potty patch.
This might not be such a problem if you have a bigger sized dog. However, for smaller dogs that
have to fight their way in 12 inches of Detroit snow won't be so excited to "drop chow" in the
cold. Heck would you?
Best Tip of All – keep your dogs with you at all times during the winter months. The best
prescription for the Dog Days of Winter is to keep your dog inside with you and your family. The
happiest dogs are those who are taken out frequently for walks and exercise but kept inside
rest of the time with you. Be happy, be kind, and be humane.