Skip to main content

Soft Paws: Sub-freezing temperatures can be precarious

Meet Bella, our senior Chihuahua at the Columbia-Greene Humane Society. Bella is pictured with CGHS/SPCA Kennel Supervisor Kayla Shea. Bella is 10 years old and is looking for an independent companion. She likes other animals, but will want to be the queen of the household. She likes to play with squeaker toys, but at the end of the day, she just wants to curl up on a comfy couch. If you are looking to adopt this sweet little lady, stop in at the shelter today.
November 29, 2019 11:48 am Updated: November 29, 2019 11:55 am


The weather outside is “frightful,” and too early in the season even for some “winter lovers.”

And though the forecast for winter sports is delightful, these sub-freezing temperatures can be precarious for man and beast.

Remember that your four-legged “kids” can’t choose to dress in layers, wear mittens, don insulated boots, and conserve heat loss with wool caps and earmuffs. They look to us to insure (and insulate) their well-being.

Most outside dogs should be brought in at night if the temperature drops below freezing.

For Nordic breeds and hardy, double-coated working dogs, a properly built, insulated doghouse, stuffed with straw is suitable bedding for heat retention. If absorbent bedding material is used, it must be changed, as does wet straw.

Acclimation to outside temperatures is a gradual process. You cannot decide to “put the dog out” on a whim.

Garages can be too cold for many dogs unless a space heater is used.

Snow is never a substitute for drinking water.

Eating snow to re-hydrate can lead to dehydration. Many of my friends set up their outside kennels with equine rubber buckets clamped to the side of the pen, with a submersible bucket de-icer. They work beautifully.

For the indoor/outdoor crew, attention to the temperature tolerance of the dog is key. Some canines love their winter booties, with coordinating jackets, while others choose to go au-natural until those tootsies tingle.

Rinse parts that have been exposed to salted surfaces. Then it’s time for a front-of-the-fireplace break.

Keep your dogs moving on a brisk day. Frostbite is always a clear and present danger with sub-freezing temperatures.

Plenty of food to generate heat is mandatory for all dogs playing or working or living outside.

An increase in food is often required even for indoor dogs. Your veterinarian must be seen immediately in case of frostbite.

Don’t forget how vulnerable our cats and kitties are. Your indoor/outdoor fancy feline should be sequestered inside until spring.

For those of you monitoring feral cats, we need to provide shelter, keep those food bowls filled, and maintain their access to drinkable water at least once a day. Straw affords warmth and safety for this susceptible homeless population.

Most large animal and livestock owners are well aware of the potential ravages of winter.

Free choice hay for outside pastured individuals, again with a reliable source of drinking water, is a necessity. Sheltering requirements can vary with the condition of the animal. Salt and mineral licks are a necessity.

Be aware of any situation that “doesn’t look right,” and phone your local law enforcement department, county sheriff’s office, or State Police with your concerns.

Better safe than sorry - we don’t want these tough times to be even tougher for our dependent creatures.

Your calls can be anonymous. Your eyes may be the only salvation for a neglected animal.

Make it a point to get involved.

Feel free to call us with any questions at 518-828-6044 or visit Stop down and see us at 111 Humane Society Road, off Route 66 (about a mile south of the intersection with Route 9H) in Hudson. Our hours are 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. every day. The Food Bank is open to any from the public in need of pet food or for those wishing to donate food anytime during business hours. All of our cats and kittens are “Furrever Free” with all expenses paid. Spay/neuter clinics for cats are $76 male or female, including a rabies vaccination and a 5-in-1 feline distemper combination vaccination. Nail clipping services are available 10-11 a.m. every Saturday at the shelter, no appointment necessary, for a donation of $5 for cats and $10 for dogs. Charlene Marchand is the Chairperson of the Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA Board of Directors. She may be contacted at