Niki Congero: Get your pets ready for winter weather (opinion) |

Niki Congero: Get your pets ready for winter weather (opinion)

Niki Congero
Tribune Opinion Columnist
Cora is a sweet, 3-year-old kitty. She needs to be in an animal-free home as she loves all the attention. Come visit Cora at The El Dorado County Animal Services, 530-573-7925. For spay-neuter services and other support, call the Lake Tahoe Humane Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at 530-542-2857. Delano, last week’s pet of the week, is still looking for his forever home. Good news — Hunter, the kitty from the week before last, is loving his new forever home!
Courtesy Photo |

Dear Henry,

I’m new to the area and not sure about how to deal with the cold weather and my dog. Do you have any tips for us?

Thank you,


Purrfect timing for this question as it actually looks like we are going to get a winter this year! Here are some winter tips for all pets.

Keep your cats inside. During any time of the year, cats that are allowed to stray can become lost or stolen, injured or killed. They can also be exposed to infectious diseases, including rabies, from other cats, dogs and wildlife.

Keep puppies inside. Housebreaking a puppy is a difficult feat made even more stressful in the winter. Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and it may be difficult to housebreak them during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may choose to paper-train him inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.

Safety tips for your pets around the car. You know how warm your car is after you turn it off? During the winter, outdoor cats or feral cats will sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars for warmth. Once the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape. Also, don’t leave your pets in the car! Most people know not to leave their dog or cat alone in the car during the summer, but did you know that it is just as dangerous for them during the winter? A hot car is to an oven as a cold car is to a refrigerator, and you wouldn’t put your pet in the refrigerator. Cars hold in the cold during the winter and can cause an animal to freeze to death. Check for dangerous materials around the car. Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats and any spills should be cleaned up thoroughly. You should consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.

Keep your dogs on a leash, please. Did you know that more dogs are lost during the winter than any other season? Dogs can lose their scent in the snow and easily become lost. You should never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. Also make sure you keep an area directly around your fence shoveled; snow build can turn a high fence into a low fence that your dog can now jump over. It is also a good idea to make sure your pet is wearing ID tags in case you do become separated.

Wipe away the cold. After you dog comes in from the snow, sleet or ice, be sure to thoroughly wipe off his legs, paws, stomach, and anywhere else they came in contact with the cold stuff. Paw pads are particularly sensitive to the elements and can become dry, cracked and bleed from exposure to the snow and ice. Dogs can also pick up salt, antifreeze, or other potentially dangerous chemicals while outside — wiping him down can help prevent accidental ingestion.

Bundle up! You probably wouldn’t go outside in the cold without a coat, so why would you let your dog? If normally you shave your dog’s coat down to the skin, avoid doing this during the winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. Short-haired breeds will greatly benefit from a coat or sweater; it is best for them to be covered with a high collar or turtleneck and all the way to the base of the tail and the belly. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk.

Give them a cozy bed. Before you settle in for a warm winter’s nap, make sure your pet also has a bed, a warm blanket or pillow is perfect. A cuddle toy is optional.


Reminder to all Tahoe pet lovers; this Saturday, Nov. 12, is your opportunity to meet Hopeful Henry in person at the Lake Tahoe Humane Society’s 30th annual SANTA PAWS event. Bring your furry family member down to Tahoe Production House, 2219 Lake Tahoe Blvd., between 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and get their photo taken with Tahoe’s exclusive Santa Dog. Turn your pic into custom cards and ornaments. There will be opportunity to purchase fun gifts for pets and people, and refreshments will be serviced while you’re waiting your turn (first come, first served). One-hundred percent of funds raised “Helps Local Animals In Need!”

Hopeful Henry is a column managed by Niki Congero, executive director of Lake Tahoe Humane Society & S.P.C.A. Submit questions or letters via e-mail to

or by mail to P.O. Box PET South Lake Tahoe, CA 96158. For more information, visit, or

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