As Vt. braces for brutal cold, vets caution to ‘bring the pets inside’

Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 4:00 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 31, 2023 at 6:26 PM EST
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ESSEX JCT., Vt. (WCAX) - It’s going to be a frigid week with temperatures expected to dip into the minus 20s by the weekend. Our Hailey Morgan spoke with a vet to get some tips on how to keep our furry friends safe when temperatures get dangerously cold.

“If it gets below zero, we don’t go out too much,” said Edward Klecka of Williston, who was spending part of his Monday morning taking his black lab mix out to the dog park. While the temperatures Monday were in the teens, they are expected to dive later in the week as the polar vortex takes hold. By Friday, Klecka says Hayley will her coat and spent limited time outside.

“I’ve got the Invisible Fence around our yard so she gets to go outside. Then, she gets a doggy wrap -- a little coat to wear. But I just make sure she’s not outside for too long. As long as she is running around, she’s okay,” Klecka said.

Veterinarian Erin Forbes says just because your dog has fur, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will stay warm. “Just like we worry about hot temperatures, the same applies in the cold. So, if it’s really cold outside, you should not take your pets for long walks. A short walk in the backyard. You have to be really careful that you don’t leave them out for extensive periods of time,” she said.

Forbes says unless your dog or cat is used to being outside, keep them inside if it’s below 20. She also says Vermont law requires dogs to have a shelter that protects them from excessive heat and cold. “It should be three-sided. It should be off the ground, because animals lose a lot of warmth to the ground. You want to use really dry bedding, and they should always have access to water. When it gets this cold, water is going to freeze, so you should either constantly be changing the water or get a heated water bowl,” she said.

Dog lover Warren Mills of Essex Junction also watches the weather to keep his golden retriever, Scout, safe. “Especially when it’s down below 20 or 10. You have to be very careful,” he said.

Forbes says if you’re going to be taking your pets out in the cold, you should make sure that have a jacket on. Check their feet for frostbite when they come inside, and 10 to 20 minutes is enough time to get their energy out.