Cold temperature and inclement weather can spell disaster if approached the wrong way. This is especially true when it comes to your pet's health and best interest.
1. Use heated water bowls when it is under thirty-two degrees. Bowls that are out in the cold will freeze faster as the temperature falls below freezing and when winds add a wind chill factor to the temperature.
2. Make sure a dog house or suitable shelter is outside if the animal has to be outdoors for any amount of time. Snow and ice can be cold to a dog's pad, not to mention the risk of hypothermia. For cats, consider an elaborate shelter that is insulated. There are very comprehensive guides to making functional and cheap cat housing for feral out outside cats here.
3. Use a pet-friendly solution when ridding your property of ice. A solution that is economically friendly and cheap is best. This could include shoveling and use of an electric snow blower. Some rock salt products can be dangerous and damage your animal's paws so think carefully and research before using any product that is questionable.
4. Make sure to prepare ahead of time by checking indoor heating structures for damage or repair early to prevent a breakdown when the weather could be at its worst.
5. Covers, heating pads, and companionship is the best solution during winter. Cuddle up with your pets and you all will stay warm!
6. Make sure to clean up any antifreeze. Antifreeze is one of the leading causes of death by ingestion. Leaking vehicles or spills are common causes. Use a antifreeze that is manufactured to help prevent ingestion or keep it stored away when not in use. Using a product that contains popylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol is safest.
7. Never shave or cut down a dog or cat during the winter time. The longer a coat is, the warmer they will be. Provide clothing such as sweaters when a small dog has to be taken out or consider puppy pads for winter time.
8. Do not allow, under any circumstance, a dog to run leash-free. This does not only violate the law in a lot of places but can often lead to a lost dog if the weather turns dangerous.
9. Always check your car before starting it. Cats especially like to sleep in the motors to stay warm. Honking the horn or smacking the hood is a good way to find any stray cats that might be hiding. Make this a morning routine as a car fan can easily kill a cat or at the very best, damage a limb.
10. If in an unknown area or a highly trafficked location, bring a glove to wipe off your dog's paws to prevent any kind of ingestion of chemicals just as rock salt or antifreeze. Remember that just because your yard is safe does not mean that your neighbor's lawn is safe.
Also please remember to watch for animals that are being mistreated. There is always a person that will throw an animal out in the cold with no food or water along with no shelter. Report them to animal control and remember to write down or record any proof.
Another tip that should be obvious: please do not trap any cats during the winter time for trap-neuter-return efforts unless you can monitor the traps often. Even a short amount of time in a trap can be hazardous if the weather turns bad all of a sudden or a predator comes by such as a coyote.