As an Arctic cold front sweeps through the state this weekend, Colorado residents must take precautions to protect their furry friends from the potentially dangerous wind chills and brutally cold temperatures in the forecast. With wind chills expected to plummet to 20 to 35 degrees below zero at times through Tuesday morning, pets left unattended outdoors even briefly could face dire consequences like hypothermia and frostbite. By implementing some simple strategies, however, pet owners can help dogs, cats, and other domestic animals remain safe and healthy despite the intense cold.
Both the actual air temperature and wind speed factor into unsafe wind chill readings. Prolonged exposure poses risks not just for pets but humans as well. The National Weather Service warns that frostbite could occur on exposed skin in less than 10 minutes under such severe wind chill conditions. Everyone, when possible, should avoid excess time outdoors over the next few days until the temperatures start to rebound later in the week.
For household pets like cats and dogs, limiting time outside is especially crucial even when you are with them on walks or potty breaks. The frigid air could irritate lungs if they are out too long, and ice and snow buildup between paw pads or even tooth decay from licking can cause issues after being outside in the cold.
Set a reasonable time limit for necessary outdoor activities with pets based on their breed, age, health, and tolerance to colder temperatures. Provide adequate nutrition and hydration so your pets have enough fuel and fluid reserves to regulate body temperature. Also, give your pets protective outerwear like coats or booties if they will be outdoors for more than brief moments.