By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Forecasts for frigid temperatures across Wyoming from Tuesday through at least Thursday have residents bundling up and adding layer after layer of clothing.
The cold snap also has the Cheyenne Animal Shelter staff urging pet owners to be aware of how cold is “too cold” for their furry friends when going outside.
“For smaller animals, coats are a good idea, but the best thing is to make sure time outside is brief and all about getting business done,” Niki Harrison, branding director for the animal shelter, told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday. “It’s important to take your pets out to use the restroom, just make sure to watch for any signs of discomfort to their paws and keep the outing short.”
The animal shelter shared a chart on its social media Tuesday indicating what temperatures would be too low for dogs ranging in size from small to large. Once the temperatures hit 55 degrees or higher, all dogs are safe to walk and play outside.
However, as temperatures drop from there, small dogs run a higher risk of developing cold-related health issues such as frostbite or hypothermia. By the time temperatures fall to 10 degrees or colder, dogs of every size run the risk cold weather maladies.
Puppies, elderly dogs and dogs with short coats specifically should spend limited amounts of time outside, as they are particularly susceptible to getting sick in frigid weather.
But dogs are not the only animals that might be outside in cold temperatures.
“Barn cats and community cats are pretty savvy when it comes to cold weather but still need places made available to shelter from the cold,” Harrison said. “There are so many great ideas out there to make shelters out of old coolers or containers for feral cats. If you have a typical indoor/outdoor cat, weather like this constitutes keeping them inside.”
She added that chickens should also be kept out of the cold in a coop that is properly ventilated. Anyone with chickens should ensure there is no cold air blowing directly on the birds and make sure the animals have water and food to weather the storm.
Thankfully, the Cheyenne shelter does not see an increase of animals being brought in during colder weather, but Harrison pointed out that there are definitely animals that lose their way while out in the snow.
“On really windy days, when fences might blow down, we definitely see more pets, though,” she said. “It’s always important to have microchip information updated and have the proper identification tags on your pets if they’re headed outside; that way, we can get ahold of the owner quickly.“
She also noted that local animal control departments across the state, as well as in Cheyenne, are great community resources that will do wellness checks on animals people have concerns about during the freezing conditions.
“Just keep an eye on your pets and enjoy the time by snuggling up together somewhere warm!” Harrison said.