Our outdoor thermometer tonight reads 48 degrees. That may not sound cold to you, but the animals who will be outside in that overnight might disagree. Contrary to popular belief, their fur coats don't keep them warm anymore than us standing outside in a thin jacket overnight would. They feel the cold just as much as we do. Some of them feel it more.
During these cold months, it's hard for us to stay warm. Imagine how much harder it is for a dog or a cat. They can't go slip on a jacket when the temperature drops or grab a throw blanket for their back. The cooler weather aggravates joint pain so older dogs and cats suffer more, especially if they are outdoors overnight in this weather.
Many people think the garage will shield them, but the cold seeps and they get extremely cold during the winter. Cement floors are more like ice blocks, locking in the cold. Dampness permeates blankets even in a garage. Once damp, they don't dry out completely, offering no comfort to the animals who need them. Pets can suffer and die from exposure to the cold after being left in the garage. Garages often harbor other dangers as well. Sharp tools and poisonous chemicals are stored in the garage. A bored dog looking to fill his time may get injured investigating these things. Your dog could get loose when you open the garage door or you might accidentally run over him while parking your car.
Some people think their dog house is enough shelter for their dogs. Again, blankets get damp and don't dry out. Some dog houses, like igloos, leak during the rain. Your dog ends up opting for the cold concrete or ground next to his dog house instead of the cold, wet blankets inside them. Some breeds are more susceptible to climate change than others. Small dogs and short-coated breeds such as Chihuahuas and Pit Bulls don’t tolerate cold weather very well even with an insulated shelter.
If you are caring for feral cats, below are some links to help you get them through the winter months:
Coming in From the Cold
Feral Cat Winter Shelter Ideas
It's best to bring your pets inside the house with you at night. They deserve to sleep where it's warm. This will also prevent illness, saving you on vet bills.