Now that we have had our first arctic blast of cold weather in the New Orleans metro area, it is a good time to remember to protect our pets when the temperatures drop.

It is a common myth that, because dogs and cats have fur coats, they can tolerate cold weather. While their fur coats may serve as some insulation, cats and dogs feel the cold just like we do. Prolonged exposure to frigid weather can cause conditions such as hypothermia and frostbite in animals.

Make sure you have a cold weather plan for your pets. Dogs that are outside should be brought indoors or at least in a garage with blankets in the event of freezing temperatures. If they cannot be brought inside, then pets should have adequate shelter from the elements outdoors. Their shelter will need to be warm, protected from wind and rain, and raised off the ground.

Doghouses should not be overly large and should have warm bedding such as dry, clean towels or blankets. Bedding will need to be changed out frequently. It should be elevated off the ground a few inches to prevent moisture from coming in through the floor. A flap opening or positioning away from the wind will help keep the warmth in and the chill out.

Make sure the pet has fresh, clean water at all times as pets become dehydrated in the wintertime.

If you feed a cat colony in your neighborhood, it is a good idea to leave your garage door cracked so they have a warm place to go.

Cats tend to curl up in tire wheel wells and under the hoods of cars to escape the cold weather, so make it a routine to knock on your hood before starting the car so that you do not injure a cat.

Keep your pets away from toxic items such as antifreeze and rat poisoning — two items that are used a lot during the wintertime. It is always a good idea to keep all toxic items well out of reach of pets all year long.

If it is too cold for you to be outside, then it is too cold for your pets. Do not leave a pet outside to suffer through the cold.

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • ANIMAL RESCUE NEW ORLEANS YAPPY HOUR: Adoptable dogs and ARNO get a percentage of sales. 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, at the Bulldog, 3236 Magazine St.
  • NEIGHBORHOOD PET ADOPTION & BAKE SALE: Sponsored by the LA/SPCA at Clearview Mall, 4436 Veterans Blvd., 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. A variety of shapes, colors and sizes of four-legged friends eager to find a new home will be available for adoption. Call (504) 368-5191 or visit http://la-spca.org">la-spca.org for more information.

Animal Rescue New Orleans Adoption Event: A mini-fundraiser at Sephora in Lakeside Shopping Center featuring puppy kissing booth, raffle baskets and more. Noon to 6 p.m. Saturday. Adoptable dogs and puppies will be on-site. Email adoptfromarno@yahoo.com for more information.

Jefferson SPCA adoption event: Held at the 2nd District Cops 2 Blues Fest, Palmer Park, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at South Carrollton Avenue at South Claiborne Avenue, New Orleans. Several animal groups will be on-site with adoptable pets. Visit www.2nddistrictbluesfest.com.

Traci D. Howerton is social media editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. Contact ARNO at animalrescuecolumn@gmail.com, www.animalrescueneworleans.org or call our recorded information line at (504) 571-1900.