Keeping dogs safe in extreme cold weather

Extremely cold weather will be impacting Indiana next week, with wind chill values dropping to as low as 15 below zero at times.

Those temperatures could be life-threatening for any dogs kept outside, says Darcie Kurtz, Executive Director of Friends of Indianapolis Dogs Outside (FIDO).

“When temperatures get below twenty degrees, and dogs, especially short-haired dogs, are kept outside for long periods, they really suffer,” Kurtz said. “Previous winters, when the temperatures were this cold, we literally found dogs outside that had died overnight in the cold.”

For Indianapolis, it is a violation of the city care and treatment ordinance to leave a dog outside when the temperature is below 20 degrees, or during a wind chill warning. In these conditions, Kurtz says, dogs must be brought inside a “temperature-controlled building” that is maintained between 40 and 80 degrees.

Kurtz says in such cold weather, dogs can go outside, but only for short periods of time. When temperatures are in the negative, Kurtz says dogs should be outside only for a few minutes. When it’s fifteen to twenty degrees, she says they can be outside for twenty to thirty minutes at most.

If you are still keeping your dog outside, Kurtz says, dog houses are crucial to keeping a dog warm and dry. She says the house should be large enough for the dog to stand up and turn around, and be filled with dry straw for bedding. The opening should also be covered with heavy plastic or weather proofing material.

However, Kurtz says the best way to keep dogs safe in the cold is to just bring them inside.

If you need help creating a safe, warm place for your dog during the cold snap, you can contact the FIDO help line at 317-221-1314.

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